The Brighton four-piece kicked off their powerful set with ‘Ordinary’- the electric opener of their most recent mixtape Seize the Power. This eight-song collection, played in its entirety, perfectly encapsulates the importance of this band in the current music scene.
Central to Seize the Power’s message is the empowerment of the individual, and for Yonaka, this involves the encouragement of open discussion surrounding battles with mental health. These themes run throughout the mixtape, enabling frontwoman Theresa to fill her between-song chat with powerful, positive messages about self-importance and self-love. ‘Greedy’ and its brooding bass, followed by the defiant, melodic anthem ‘Call me a Saint’ both further the mighty message of self-belief through their huge sound.
Full of emotion, it would be hard to come away from this set feeling unmoved. Whether this is through Theresa’s touching acknowledgement of the struggles many of us face, or the difficulty of letting go of the past, it cannot be denied that this band has an admirable capacity to speak to you. The tune that is ‘Raise Your Glass’ is a perfect ode to accepting the past, with Theresa reminding the crowd that our mistakes have all led us to where we are today. She poignantly highlights the way that society teaches us to be self-critical and damning of ourselves, when rather, there is so much value in our individualism.
A stripped back rendition of ‘Guilty’, a stunning track from the band’s debut album Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow, enveloped the room with Theresa’s incredible, raw voice. The set then concluded with three huge songs, ‘Clique’, ‘F.W.T.B.’ and ‘Seize the Power’, followed by an encore of ‘Anthem’ and ‘Rockstar’.
It is clear that the band are seeking a shift away from much of their old music, with ‘F.W.T.B.’ being the only song on the setlist, which did not feature on either Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow or Seize the Power, from amongst their older tracks. For those of us who’ve been fans of Yonaka since they started out, the lack of older material feels a shame, but at the same time, this shift seems logical for the direction the band is moving in. As Theresa has expressed in previous interviews, this change in direction is necessary for the growth of the band, as they mature and discover what influence they want to have on the world. The same can be applied to long-time fans such as myself, who have grown up with the influence of Yonaka; as the band grows and evolves, so do we. I listen back to their old tunes with fond memories, but I am also incredibly excited for what this band has in store for us.
Words by Eve Jones
Photo Credit: Dave East