What comes to mind when hearing the name ‘Yungblud’? I’m inclined to suggest your response falls into one of two categories: weightless elation or outright contempt. In recent years, it seems everyone has got their two cents on the ‘little lad from Donny’; but, regardless of whether you’re now sporting a giddy grin or barely suppressing a scornful sneer, there’s no denying Yungblud is impossible to ignore. And this is further proven by his Wembley gig this weekend, to a sold-out arena.
When the time comes, Yungblud’s arrival is incredibly fitting. As the tension thickens, instrumentals building, a dark silhouette fills the curtain at the front of the stage, which a devil-horned Dom Harrison soon fills. The cheeky devil himself, larger-than-life, towering over a packed-out arena of fans. As the curtain drops, people prepare to burst into the opening track. But, instead, the immediate charm of Yungblud washes over. Rather than jumping into the set, Harrison takes a second to soak up the howls of appreciation, with a joyous “hello!”.
The simple greeting somehow generates more fervour than any hard-hitting track could possibly muster. Yungblud has a personality big enough to fill arenas – even a mere hello is charismatic enough to demonstrate this. The foundational connection, the polite greeting, makes opener ‘21st Century Liability’ kick that bit harder.
When soaking up the joy of a Yungblud gig, it’s hard not to grow a soft spot for the Doncaster artist. There’s a clear love of performance that oozes out of Harrison, a love that pours out of him with every hook and catchy chorus. But it also quickly becomes clear where all the scepticism stems from, the clashing sides of his persona.
At times, you’d not be blamed for mistaking Harrison for an overzealous puppy, running laps around the stage, spinning in dizzying circles, screaming into the crowd. There’s a boyish, scrappy charm in everything he does – all before he sinks into edgy rockstar clichés. The bright, indie-tinged magic of tracks like ‘The Funeral’ clash with lyrics like “I’ve got a fucked up soul and an STD”, while the sugary sweet flow of ‘Strawberry Lipstick’ contrasts with the promiscuous lyrics and wine-swigging Harrison onstage.
The B-stage further highlights the grittier edge Yungblud attempts to embody, emulating a dirty, grimy Trainspotting-esque bathroom. Yet, no matter how hard he tries, there’s something squeaky clean about his scrappy on-stage antics – a Dennis The Menace chic that’s playfully rebellious and tongue-in-cheek. The contrasting sides at times leave you wondering what crowd Yungblud aims to please. And, for many, the inconsistencies come off as inauthentic.
However, there’s one thing that cannot be denied about Yungblud: he truly means no harm. There’s absolutely nothing offensive about his character, and there’s no denying he knows how to put on a fabulously entertaining show, the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. And, beyond the rockstar gimmicks, there’s a deep level of care for his fanbase – an earnest, undeniable love for his supporters.
From his preaching that the one rule of the evening is to “treat everyone in the building with respect”, to the Tim Burton-esque, animated interlude telling fans they’re “not alone”, Yungblud makes up for his cheesier side with an overwhelming amount of love for his fanbase.
In a way, if you dislike Yungblud, that’s fine. But what you can’t deny is that he cares. When ‘The Boy In The Black Dress’ is on stage, he has a mission – one of preaching self-acceptance. Yungblud knows he has influence, a voice, and he is set on using it; set on making people feel heard. He’s a man who will wave the trans flag onstage and screech for Rishi Sunak to “listen to the kids!”. He’s not above clambering into the seated area to dance with fans during Fleabag, or bounding into the crowd to ask people’s names, asking “which song should we play next?”.
When tracks like ‘Mars’ take hold of the arena, every voice howling along with their entire hearts, the true importance of Yungblud is blindingly clear: he’s a man of his people, the torchbearer of ‘hope for the underrated youth’.
Yes, Yungblud may be more bubblegum-pop-rock than true rock n’ roll star, but where’s the harm in that? For many, a Yungblud show provides a glimmer of hope in a rather bleak world. And, if you’re willing to leave your prejudice at the door, we guarantee you’ll be won over, if only for the evening. After all, who can resist having a little boogie to California, ey?