Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Years & Years, Cat Burns, Queer House Party, Bournemouth International Centre, 20/05/2022

Photo Credit: Caitlyn Ebsworthy (OVO Arena Wembley on 26th May)

Years & Years’ Night Call tour recently headed to a sold-out Bournemouth International Centre to brighten up everyone’s Friday night. With support for the show coming from party-starters Queer House Party and soulful-singer Cat Burns, we knew this was going to be something very special.

Starting the party tonight was LGBTIQ+ DJ and dance collective Queer House Party who were bringing their previously virtual parties to the live stage on this tour. Their two sets were pure, rowdy fun with twerking, grooving and DJing; we felt like we were interrupting their house party at times! A theme of this tour line-up has been representation and Queer House Party were an exemplary example of this as they used their set to highlight their support to trans and sex workers. Oh, and if you want Queer House Party to bring the party to you, let it be known that “if your party isn’t accessible, we’re not coming!” and they stuck to their world with a BSL interpreter signing to the stage during not only their set but the whole night. 7/10

On the release day of her latest EP emotionally unavailable, singer-songwriter Cat Burns was tonight’s main support act. As Burns took to the stage, it didn’t take long for the crowd to warm to her down-to-earth and willing to share demeanour. Providing insights into each of the tracks, Free as Burns explained was her coming out song telling of the freedom and relief when being able to be your authentic self. Informing the crowd of the nerves she was experiencing tonight, led us into anxiety; a cleverly written track about your anxiety and trying to overcome it but questioning if people know you or the anxiety you’ve experienced. Personal set favourite came with ghosting when you just need some space which might be seen differently by other people, when you’re just stopping yourself from inflicting your emotions onto them. The funkier number featured the catchiest chorus of the set and provided the much sought-after opportunity for audience participation as many could resonate with the lyrics. Closing the set with go, saw a sea of smiles sweep across the crowd as the emotional power of Burns’ distinctive, soulful vocals was simply spell-binding. Cat Burns is a name we know we’ll hear a lot more of in the coming months, as this unfiltered set meant the sole focus was on the sincere, emotive and incredibly personal live music being performed and proved she is simply one of the greatest singer-songwriters out there right now. 8/10

As the lights went down one last time and the anticipation rose, we took the time to look around the room and take in vibe of the audience. It was a collection of people from all different walks of lives, including a child who hadn’t stood still the whole night and was running around in their tour t-shirt to an older couple avidly watching on, reminding us of the importance of artists such as Years & Years. Olly Alexander has always spoken out about expressing yourself, being you and encouraging/supporting everyone to love whoever they chose to love. Tonight, for 90 minutes we were able to unite in the safe space of a Years & Years show and with so much negativity in the world Olly Alexander was here to help bring some much-needed light into everyone’s world.

Due to this being the second night of tour, we were able to avoid any spoilers so far, meaning we had no clue what we were in for as a backing video followed Alexander to a telephone box. It then saw him emerging from it onstage and into album title track Night Call quickly followed by Sweet Talker with telephone choreography.  Bring to life the video’s we were seeing behind us, we were transported to grotty, club toilet during Sanctify and Worship/Rendezvous. We felt like we were intruding as the sexy onstage dance routines were jaw-dropping and eye-popping in the best way, as you felt like you shouldn’t be disturbing these intimate moments in the darkened bathrooms. Freedom, inclusivity and self-expression are things Years & Years have openly supported and encouraged, so to see this come to life onstage was a much-welcomed addition to tonight’s proceedings. 

The electric, fast paced set still provided an incredible showcase of Alexander’s vocal abilities. Slowing things down came a stripped-back section as he took to the piano to perform 20 Minutes straight into Eyes Shut. Breath-taking is the only way to describe this section of the night, supported by the divine backing vocalists, Alexander looked out into a sea of phone lights as the emotion packed within the vocals was overpowering. It was also here we found ourselves incredibly drawn to the BSL interpreter side of stage, signing out the powerful lyrics; something we’d only previously seen at festivals but hope we’ll be seeing much more of. 

It wouldn’t have been a Years & Years show without the classics making an appearance. Shine accompanied by confetti made an electric track even more magical moment as we felt the emotion within every single word Alexander was singing with a beaming smile on his face. Bournemouth isn’t known for its loud crowds but once Desire came to play, the crowd were alive, even if a bit creeped out by the trippy backing visuals.

Latest single Hallucination with infectiously melodies which when paired with hypnotic visuals make for an unforgettable part of your night. It was a cruel move to play with our minds during Up In Flames, as Alexander seemingly floated above a chair being controlled by the backing vocalists; if anyone can explain… please do! Alexander was the ringleader, working and complimenting the crowd including our favourite (and one we definitely took personally); “Bournemouth, you look so cute” and taking the time throughout to thank the fans, band and the whole crew involved in making this such a spectacular show.

Sometimes you witness a show which sticks with you for all the right reasons and tonight was one of them. We couldn’t help but be stunned by the versatility of the frontman; take the mash-up cover version of Pet Shop Boys It’s A Sin, one moment we’re blown away by the intimate, yet so incredibly powerful piano version before Alexander jumps on top of the piano and turns it into a disco anthem. This incredibly important song was turned into a fiery spectacle and goodness we loved it!

With the night drawing to a close, fan-favourite Starstuck was performed with the most graphic and disturbing visuals of the whole set as we watched his dancers, turning to crazed fans whilst Alexander’s turned this into a full venue party. The power-pairing of If You’re Over Me and King, made sure we all went out singing. Introduced to If You’re Over Me by the backing vocals getting the crowd perfecting their clapping, it was Year & Years’ world and we were just living in it for the night. Rounding off tonight with the loudest, euphoric sing-along and venue on their feet, we were all under Alexander’s control as we pulled out our best shapes and admired ‘those’ vocal runs.

Tonight, was a full-team effort with everything right down to the outfits and stage set changes simply perfected. This was Olly Alexander’s vision brought to life, a night of exploration, self-expression and loving everything which makes you unapologetically you. The question is, when can we do it all over again?


Written By: Nicola Craig

Photo Credit: Caitlyn Ebsworthy (OVO Arena Wembley on 26th May)

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar