Yonaka put on an explosive show at the O2 Institute in Birmingham, Music Critic Victoria Wilson reviews

Written by Victoria Wilson

Before I went to see Yonaka, I was chatting with a friend about how concert reviews are always overwhelmingly positive. They challenged me to nit-pick a little more. However even through the most critical lens I could not find fault with last night’s show. From inspiring speeches to tenacious anthems, Yonaka, cliché as it may sound, blew the roof off the institute.

We only caught the last song, from supporting artist July Jones, but her energetic stage presence throughout her TikTok famous hit, ‘Aladdin’ was striking. The alt pop tune merges soft but sassy verses with a catchy vocal riff before exploding into a resolute chorus where Jones vents about the girl she caught her fiancé texting. Jones’ engagement with the crowd was unmatched, something I hope she doesn’t neglect as she grows; from making a TikTok with the audience, to meeting fans and offering to sign things for them, her enthusiasm for her supporters shone.

The exuberance and exhilaration in the room was mesmerising

Following July, King No-One rocked onto the stage. I would love to see a collaboration between these artists. Whilst in many live performances the lead singer carries most of the energy, every member of King No one brought a unique fire to the stage through hard hitting pop rock tunes ‘Antichrist’, ‘Not Willing to Sacrifice My Life’ and ‘Alcatraz.’ ‘Alcatraz’ proved a highlight as the audience clapped along to the playful layering of guitar and drums before the band adapted the acoustic guitar for rock music in their rendition of ‘Out of My Mind.’ Again, from bantering about Yorkshire to standing up on the barrier to sing, to meeting fans after the show, King No-One’s audience interaction was incredible.

As the first notes of ‘Ordinary’ rung out, Yonaka strode onto the stage one by one under dramatic strobe lighting. For the next hour the exuberance and exhilaration in the room was mesmerising. Lead singer Theresa Jarvis built the tension through the gentle first verse before attacking Ordinary’s cathartic chorus, portraying remarkable vocal range. Uplifted by the band’s power, the mood in the audience felt ecstatic as people moshed, shouted along, and danced to provocative hit ‘Clique’ from 2021 album Seize the Power. The album’s titular song was a highlight for me, as Theresa introduced it with an inspirational speech about perseverance and lead guitarist, George Edwards delivered a powerful solo standing on the speakers.

There was a real sense of unity in the crowd throughout this poignant hit about finding yourself

The evening then slowed a little as Edwards brought out the acoustic guitar to perform slow burning ballad ‘Guilty’ with Theresa. The band’s chemistry bloomed here as the pair delivered the raw stripped back hit, inviting the audience to sing along. Though Theresa briefly forgot the lyrics to the second verse, her collected professionalism as she and the audience laughed it off can only be commended. Yonaka then added a unique rock style twist to Pat Benatar’s ‘Love is a Battlefield’ before exiting the stage.

To rising chants for one more song, Yonaka reclaimed the stage with their inspiring hit ‘Anthem.’ As we lit up the venue with our phone torches there was a real sense of unity in the crowd throughout this poignant hit about finding yourself and togetherness. Finally, Yonaka ramped up the energy with their fierce fan favourite, ‘Rockstar.’ During the final chorus we all followed the band in crouching down before leaping up as song climaxed: an explosive finale to an explosive show.

You Might Also Like:

Album Review: Between You & Me – Armageddon

Live Review: Waterparks

Single Review: Meet Me @ The Altar – Feel A Thing