LIVE: James Yuill @ The Castle Hotel, Manchester, 13.09.17

One audience member’s shouts of “MAD SCIENTIST” essentially sum up the experience of seeing James Yuill at Castle Hotel. It seems an obvious comparison to make because of his long, very blonde hair, glasses and skinny frame – and one that, with a quick Google of James Yuill, you can find used countless times – but it’s accurate.

Playing his unique brand of electro-folk, it’s impossible to know what you’re going to get from Yuill. As is the case even with his records James flits seamlessly between pounding electro sounds and emotional acoustic ones. Seamless, perhaps, isn’t the right word. It would be wrong to suggest it wasn’t erratic, but it’s purposeful, and keeps the audience on their toes. Indeed, James is kept on his toes too. Navigating a board of a million buttons, switches and nobs, as well as a guitar just to prove he can, in fact, do everything – not to mention his vocals which remain faultless no matter how much else he’s doing – James certainly looks like a scientist of sorts. Adding a little bit of various sonic ingredients, Yuill creates a landscape of sound that’s made for far bigger places than the Castle.

Yet the size of the venue played to James’ advantage. The wall of sound paired with hypnotic backing videos made for a show that was completely encompassing. While I came out feeling a little odd – as though we’d been in some sort of alternative reality that James had been controlling from the stage – it’s something that I’d recommend for everyone.

Melissa Svensen