On Monday 17th April 2017, The Guardian printed Ian Gittins’ review of the last night of You Me At Six’s Night People tour at Alexandra Palace. Needless to say, Ian did not enjoy himself at the show.
In a less than pleasant tone Gittins addressed his disdain at what he referred to as “an utterly generic, entirely unremarkable arena-rock band.”
What followed was an onslaught of seemingly personal slams decorated with a spattering of critique based largely around his issue with the band’s lyrics.
Let me start with the former.
Gittins conjured a new genre of “pop-metal” to brandish You Me At Six with. A term he later said was meant to be funny, and perhaps would have been had it made any sense. You Me At Six are not pop…or metal…they’re more just “You Me At Six” which has been more than good, and original, enough for their fans for over a decade.
Josh Franceschi was the main target of Gittins written assault who described the frontman as “anonymous and forgettable.” It’s a bizarre string of words coming from a man who went out of his way to see this band then spent some time constructing a pretty lengthy and, at any rate, wordy review of Franceschi’s performance, none of which he appears to forget.
But it wasn’t just his performance that came under fire. His accent proved to be a bone of contention for Gittins who couldn’t seem to quite pin point exactly where it was from.
Maybe I can help with this. Josh Franceschi was born in Surrey, where his band was later formed. It also happens to be where I work and travelled to Alexandra Palace from for this very show.
You see, the fact that I can write that sentence means an awful lot to me. It tells me that progression through an evidently hostile industry is possible and doesn’t just happen to people in far off places. It happens despite how difficult several people will try to make it or how angry long standing members of the industry will be about it.
As a teen YMAS were a band my peers and I connected with because we related to their songs, they gave us hope for our futures and they grew along with us. It fills me with pride to see how seriously You Me At Six continue to take that responsibility and believe them whole-heartedly when they address political and social issues that effect my generation on a daily basis regardless of how “trite and banal” Gittins may feel that is.
As for the latter of Gittins approaches, it’s evident that the issue he takes with the music itself comes down to lyrics. Lyrics that can be heard in recordings. Lyrics that can be googled for clarity. Lyrics that are INCREDIBLY unlikely to have changed in anyway between the time they were recorded and the time the band took to the stage. Yet Gittins reached out to You Me At Six’s PR company anyway and personally requested review tickets.
Begs the question – mate, you not got anything better to do on a Saturday night then go see a band you know you don’t like?
Perhaps he doesn’t. Perhaps it was his intention to aggravate, cultivate attention or vent his frustrations at something he didn’t understand. It’s not for me to decide that, in much the same way it’s not for him to decide wether another persons sentiments are “overwrought and hollow” or that “they must be faking it.”
In any event, rock music has, is, and always will be the music of the people. It’s ability to transcend the boundaries set by “the taste making elite” (such as Gittins, who has written for numerous music publications since the 80s and has spent time commissioning and editing musical biographies) has long been it’s appeal.
A band’s ability to “surf a populist wave to success, powered by robust tunes, elbow grease and naked bloody-mindedness” is, in itself, what would make them heroic.
As for Gittins’ final remark, I simply don’t understand his point:
“The crowd go absolutely wild and then they go absolutely home.”
I’m not sure where exactly you wanted us to go instead but let it be known that if You Me At Six had played their entire back catalogue, continuing into the wee hours of the morning then I (a ticket buying member of that crowd) would have stayed until the last note.
The show at Alexandra Palace was glorious. It spanned a lengthy career, took full advantage of the staging opportunities afforded by such a remarkable venue, showcased Franceschi’s increasingly impressive vocal skill as well as the band’s ability to smash upbeat punky offerings as well as sinisterly dramatic tracks.
It was also evident, from beginning to end, how much You Me At Six means to their adoring fans. There were several times when it was clear that the feeling was mutual which is priceless and indestructible.
Keep doing your thing YMAS. We love ya.