There are three certainties in life - death, taxes and a great night out in Queen's Students' Union. It houses some superb live music venues and has hosted some of the best bands of recent times. So, it feels good to be welcomed back to the social bosom of my Alma mater for tonight's Yeasayer gig. And by the looks of it, I'm not the only one excited to be here in the Speakeasy. The place is rammed. Hailed on their Myspace page as 'Enya with bounce' (music to my Donegal ears), they're a Brooklyn band favouring the same experimental, psychedelic, slightly weird rock style as their borough pals, MGMT.
I should confess I knew relatively little about Yeasayer until recently. The mainstream consciousness, it seems, has been slow to catch on to these guys this side of the Atlantic although they did play Glastonbury two years ago. But they've been big in the US for a couple of years, appearing on the Conan O'Brien show and touring with MGMT and Beck in 2008. However, the crowded Speakeasy is evidence that fans here are starting to sniff them out and tonight's audience is showing an appreciation for the band's folksy music tinged with tribal sounds and chant-like melodies that assumes a slight ethereal quality in some places and ethnic overtures in others.
An inventive and creative use of sitars, bells, shakers and hand-clapping, together with some rhythmic chanting, creates a soundtrack for tonight's show that conjures up images of chilled-out hot summer's evenings, supping cold beers in the great outdoors with friends to the backdrop of a setting sun. And the crowd loves it. Standout track of the night is 'Ambling Alp', not because it's the first single of theirs that I heard, but because it's that bit more up-tempo than the other tracks they've been performing tonight. 'Sunrise' (hinting of Animal Collective) is very catchy, there's a whiff of country off '2080' - no bad thing - and their latest single, O.N.E., is more pop-based than anything off their first album, 'All Hour Cymbals'.
Visually too, the band puts on a really impressive display, complementing their melodic tunes with a four-arched backdrop and varying strobes of coloured lighting that render the band members shadow puppets for the entire set.
Yeasayer sound just as good live as they do on their albums. Overall the music is a bit mellower than I expected but I should have anticipated this as I've listened to both their albums several times. However, this is in no way a criticism - and anyway, we're already spoilt for choice in the up-tempo music department. Fingers crossed that Yeasayer are back in the UK this summer as a welcome addition to the festival circuit.