Summer evenings call for summer tunes and as the sun beats down on London on a Tuesday evening, there is no better place to be than a Shacklewell Arms that is playing host to Yumi Zouma. Though the heat is not as stifling as it has been in recent weeks, something cool is required and they don’t come much cooler than the much vaunted New Zealand band from the super-cool Cascine label. Yet those of us who arrive anticipating an evening of chilled out tunes that evoke feelings of relaxing by a sun-drenched lake with a cold beer in hand, are in for a surprise.
With an understated, almost shy “Hello. We’re Yumi Zouma from New Zealand. Thanks for having us”, the night is underway and immediately it’s clear that this won’t be a night to put your feet up. Live they have an unexpected and very welcome energy. The tempo of the music hasn’t changed but it feels more alive, more upbeat and full of verve. The band interchange instruments between songs, dextrously swapping positions on stage as they do so. As they bounce and bob enthusiastically on stage, the crowd does the same, roaring their approval as each track draws to a close and enthusiastically awaiting the next.
Having fulfilled her early set guitar duties, lead vocalist Kim is freed to sashay and sway, imbuing the music with a hitherto unnoticed but very welcome sexiness. Those audience members with no prior knowledge of the band are immediately drawn in and taken on a journey, those who have already played the EP to death smile and nod as they join us in a musical nirvana. Though, with only four tracks released thus far, a good 50% of the set is new to practically everyone yet all of it feels familiar and welcoming. To a song Yumi Zouma’s new music is sounding great and, minor technical mishaps aside, they are putting on a storming set that is being loved by all.
The evening closes with the triumvirate of “The Brae”, “Riquelme” and “Sålka Gets Her Hopes Up”, the crowd cries out its appreciation and the band are gone, out through the crowd ready for the next step on their current international jet-setting tour. All that is left is a group of 100 or so very happy attendees and two extremely proud parents manning the merch stand. They have every right to be, their kids have had a lot of hype recently and they are more than living up to it.
Photo Credit: Elsie