You Me At Six haven’t pulled out a full U.K. tour since their run with All Time Low in early 2015. There have been the odd appearances at festivals and a one-off fundraising event in London for the Ghost Inside but for the most part fans have been left wondering where You Me At Six were and when they’d make their epic, highly-awaited return. As if out of the blue, You Me At Six revealed exactly where they’d been when they dropped a single, “Night People,” showing fans a new side to them both in their sound and visuals. Quickly following was a tour announcement for the fall, one of the dates landing them in the stunning Empire, Middlesbrough’s premier music venue.
VANT were up first and are, peculiarly, the only support band of the evening. They are a breath of fresh air; their sound isn’t pigeonholed in a particular genre and it makes for a more interesting listen. Experienced live, it gives their guitar parts a more guttural, gritty tone that takes you back to a ’90s alternative sound. Vocalist Mattie Vant is charismatic, taking all the time in the world to connect with the audience between songs and praising Middlesbrough for the hand it’s played in promoting and helping local bands throughout the North East, as this is where he made his humble beginnings years ago. Perhaps their love for the city and the venue pushes their performance even further and finds Vant rolling around on the floor at one point of the set, strumming his guitar wildly.
For the opening track to You Me At Six’s set, “When We Were Younger,” vocalist Josh Franceschi takes to the stage alone, he is backed by just two lights setting a more moody vibe to the atmosphere from the get-go. It seems wise to start the set on a slightly more somber note, to let the excitement calm from seeing the band again before they launch into bigger tracks like “Bite My Tongue” and “Fresh Start Fever.” Another newly released track, “Plus One,” which is set to be on their upcoming 2017 release, Night People, came quite early on in the set. It was released at the beginning of October—ample time for fans to memorize the words and they don’t disappoint with their sing-alongs. There isn’t as much stage presence as the likes of VANT but You Me At Six definitely make up for it with their sheer amount of incredible tracks spanning over their entire discography: “Stay With Me,” “Lived A Lie,” and “Reckless” to name but a few. You can’t help but feel with how chaotic and brash their sound is that it is more suited being back in bigger venues, or even arena settings like their tour with All Time Low; that chance for it to echo, to fill and not reverberate off of these tiny venue walls. As intimate as the show is, with literally no possible room from any side, you can’t help to think that the set would be more full in a better venue.