Featured image: Georgina Hurdsfield
For the first time in five years, Jonatan Aron Leandoer Håstad (Yung Lean), makes a long-awaited return to Manchester. With the recent release of his mixtape Stardust (2022), and studio album Starz (2020), Yung Lean was way overdue a UK tour.
Yung Lean’s success only grows bigger, consistently rising in popularity over the years, recently, with the help of TikTok adding Ginseng Strip 2002 to its most viral songs nearly a decade after its release. Lean’s music is clearly timeless, bringing a sold-out crowd to Manchester Academy’s 2,600 capacity venue.
Walking into the venue, it’s a glimpse into Yung Lean’s world. The stage decorated like a mystical theme park. “Welcome to the magical mystery forest of Yung Lean” a theatrical voice boomed over the crowd as giant mushrooms lined the stage, a rollercoaster cart and a green light up sign reading ‘Lean Land’. The perfect and unique atmosphere for a Yung Lean gig with bigger production than ever before.
Opening with ‘My Agenda’ from Starz, Lean enters a cloud full of smoke and the excitement in the room sky rockets. The crowd is transported into a different world. Next came ‘Afghanistan’, the energy in the room as the green strobes flashed was unmatched. Playing songs old and new, everyone knew each track word for word. Lean didn’t shy away from talking to the crowd in-between songs. “The magic ship of Lean Land, welcome Manchester,” Lean told the crowd, seeming very grateful to be back. The atmosphere amongst the crowd was euphoric, reciprocating Lean’s emotional output for every song.
It was clear which songs were fan favourites as the energy throughout the crowd reached its peak for ‘Smirnoff Ice’, ‘Yoshi City’ and ‘Leanworld’. ‘Agony’ gave everyone a chance to take a breather for a slow, emotional sing-a-long to one of Yung Lean’s unforgettable, most vulnerable songs. Finishing the set with the ultimate sad boy soundtrack, ‘Yellowman’, the perfect song to say goodbye with. The only song sadly missed from the set that could’ve made the gig that little bit more special was ‘Boylife in EU’, a favourite from Starz.
We hope Yung Lean doesn’t leave it as long next time before returning back to Manchester, bringing his unique low-fi alternative emo hip-hop sound. Perhaps next time, it would be intriguing to see Yung Lean headline a night during The Warehouse Project season, with Depot Mayfield being the perfect venue for a Lean show.