- 24 Mar 19
“I cannot describe what this feels like right now,” Wild Youth’s lead singer David Whelan muses into the mic on Saturday night. He looks out over the Olympia Theatre, its three floors packed tight with happy fans and even happier family: the band members’ parents sit in box seats flanking the stage, lip-syncing along to each song with practiced accuracy and spontaneous joy.
Each musician – Whelan, Ed Porter (guitar and vocals), Conor O’Donohoe (keyboard and vocals) and Callum McAdam (drums) – sports wide eyes and smiles as the house lights illuminate the equally ecstatic faces of a sold-out crowd, the group’s first at this venue. For this rapidly rising Irish pop-rock band that’s opened for acts like The Script and Niall Horan, tonight marks a changing of the tides.
The concert kicks off in total darkness. A deep recorded voice blares from the speakers, touting a message of freedom to express. Blinding white strobe lights blink on with increasing speed as drummer McAdam takes the stage to a chorus of screams. Not long after McAdam begins his skilled frenzy of playing, the rest of the band joins him for an intense performance of ‘Long Time No See.’
From tune to tune, Whelan jumps and spins in perfect, tight circles whilst effortlessly hitting falsetto notes. Highlights include fan favorite ‘Outsider’ and ‘Making Me Dance,’ a tune that leans towards the pop end of Wild Youth’s sound spectrum and gets the whole venue singing along.
After jamming out to ‘Close,’ another well-known song from the group’s debut EP The Last Goodbye, Whelan teases the next chapter in Wild Youth’s journey, revealing that the band is currently working on new music before playing the as-yet-unheard ‘Anywhere With You.’ Bound to become a staple in the group’s rotation of fun, passionate pieces, ‘Anywhere With You’ brings Wild Youth’s funky side to the forefront with a radio-ready bop.
Whether they’re singing along with support act RuthAnne in ‘Body to Body’ or basking in the light of a thousand cell phones during slow jam ‘Drinking About You,’ Wild Youth’s energy level never dips below a ten. ‘Give Me Some of Your Love’ in particular is a shining moment as Whelan expertly works the crowd and interacts with his fellow band mates. The looks of solidarity the four share betray their own euphoric disbelief.
“This is surreal, I’m not going to lie,” says Whelan to the crowd in awe. “I have moments where I’m shitting myself and others where it feels totally natural.”
“About two years ago, we were sitting at home making music,” adds keyboardist O’Donohoe. “Our family didn’t know what we were doing. Our friends didn’t know what we were doing. Nobody knew what we were doing, but we believed in ourselves…without you [the audience], we wouldn’t be here.”
As the band plays their last four songs, this sense of partnership between the group and their fans is palpable. The crowd jumps in tandem with ‘Lose Control.’ An Irish flag draped around his shoulders, Whelan leads the crowd in a series of chants during ‘All or Nothing,’ and midway through the final number, veritable hit ‘Can’t Move On,’ he hops off stage and into the pit itself, still dancing and hitting notes with ease.
When this benchmark performance comes to a close, the band takes their time walking into the wings. As the last member disappears backstage, the audience raves. After all, they’ve gotten what they came here to see – a rare glimpse of a group on the edge of something truly great.