PALAYE ROYALE + YONAKA + STARBENDERS @ EVENTIM APOLLO, LONDON 10TH FEBRUARY 2023
Tonight at London’s Eventim Apollo, Starbenders took to the stage as the first support for Palaye Royale, and they were a real treat. This Atlanta-based four-piece, fronted by the mesmerizing Kimi Shelter on vocals and guitar, the dynamic guitar skills of Kriss Tokaji, Aaron Lecesne on bass duty and the thundering beats of Emily Moon on drums, took the lucky ones who managed to beat the queues outside on a wild rockin’ nine track ride. Opening with the punky ‘Blood Moon’, which set the tone for the rest of the set quite nicely.
Starbenders sure delivered with tracks ‘Holy Mother‘, ‘Bitches Be Witches‘ and their latest single ‘The Game‘, which already has amassed 500,000 plays on Youtube in just the first few days. These were all upbeat and fun rockers, but the night’s real highlight was the final track, the slow-building, ‘If You Need It‘, which breaks out into an impossible not to sing-a-long chorus, which certainly gained them plenty of new fans amongst the audience.
The chemistry between members was palpable, and their love for their work shone through. Starbenders’ sound is pretty unique, blending the best of ’70s glam rock, punk, and pop into a sonic assault that will get you moving. The band’s theatrical and energetic live shows have earned them a reputation as one of the most exciting acts out there, and tonight’s early performance only solidifies that. If you haven’t seen Starbenders live yet, do yourself a favour and make it happen.
By the Time Yonaka hits the stage, the Apollo is filling up nicely, with the heat rising and the energy in the venue building. The Brighton-based alt-rockers open with ‘Ordinary‘ and immediately have the crowd on their side, pumped up and ready for more. Then they powered through tracks like ‘Greedy‘, ‘PANIC‘ and ‘Punchbag‘; they had to restart the latter due to crowd issues as one or two punters were helped over the pit to safety.
One of the show’s highlights was an extended version of the classy ‘Rock Star‘, which had plenty of vocal support from the audience. Yonaka’s energy was contagious, and they were clearly having a blast on stage, with vocalist Theresa Jarvis making the most of the large area and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Special mention to guitarist George Edwards who was absolutely killing it stage left.
The show reached its climax with the lively ‘Seize the Power,’ which had the pit going wild yet again, closing the show with a bang and leaving the young crowd wanting more. Definitely a band I need to see live again.
Last year Palaye Royale‘s show at Camden’s Roundhouse was our highlight of 2022 (you can read about it here), and I’ve high hopes for tonight to be even better. The band is riding high on the new album ‘Fever Dream’, which has garnered fantastic reviews and the band an even bigger fan base, so now they have stepped up to an even larger venue.
The night starts with a highly charged version of ‘Nightmares‘ from their ‘The Bastards’ album. The band appear silhouetted behind a curtain before it dramatically drops, revealing the three brothers: Remington Leith on vocals, Sebastian Danzig on guitar, and Emerson Barrett, on drums, along with Andrew Martin on lead guitar. Due to duties with The Eagles of Death Metal, there’s no Jennie Vee on bass for this tour, and that position is held by someone who remains unnamed. The crowd erupt as the band members eat up every inch of the stage.
An electrifying ‘There Is No Love in LA‘ follows, and the sing-a-long has well and truly started as the die-hard fans know every word.
With roots in the US but heavily influenced by the UK music scene, Palaye Royale has created a sound that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking, drawing from the rock opera of The Who and Queen, the Brit-pop of Oasis, and the swagger of The Libertines into an all-out rock ‘n’ roll tour-de-force.
‘You’ll Be Fine‘ follows from ‘Boom Boom Room (Side B)‘ and is one of only a few dips into the band’s back catalogue, as most of the night’s set is taken from the current platter. Well, it is the Fever Deam tour, isn’t it?
‘Broken‘, ‘Fucking With my Head‘ and ‘Paranoid’ are all excellent tunes, but the first of many highlights is the exceptional ‘King of the Damned‘, which opens up the mosh pit followed by a superb run-through of ‘Mr. Doctor Man‘. Remmington Leith also takes to crowd surfing in a rubber dingy whilst gleefully spraying the heated-up crowd with water which was a new one on me.
More highlights include a moving performance of ‘Oblivion‘ with Emerson switching from the drums to piano and Remington centre stage on vocals. The powerhouse track ‘Off With The Head‘ literally blew off our heads and one of the finest examples of modern rock opera when combined with the beautiful outro, which brings on one of the largest sing-a-longs of the night as the venue is filled with giant balloons bouncing around the crowd and even up into the balconies followed by canons firing confetti high into the air which creates a beautiful sight from my vantage point and bringing the main set to a close.
Water is handed out to those at the front before the band appears again. For ‘Lonely‘, Remmington takes up piano duties for the opening, followed by ‘Fever Dream‘, which has every person bouncing and singing like it’s their last night on earth. Towers of sparks burst from the stage as coloured searchlights dart across the crowd, building the event’s drama even further and bringing tears to the faces of many. The singing continues for the final number, the rocking ‘Get Higher’, the perfect set closer to send the crowd on their begrudging way.
Palaye Royale have been faultless tonight, and they put on a show like no other. So let’s hope they’ll be back again to the UK soon, but if they do the way they are going, they will again need a bigger venue.
With their distinctive sound and dynamic stage presence, the band is a force to be reckoned with in the world of alternative rock. If you can see Palaye Royale live, don’t miss the chance! You won’t be disappointed.