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How Yungblud became one of rock’s most electrifying live performers

Days after Yungblud won the Live Act award at the Rolling Stone UK Awards in collaboration with Remy Martin, we explore how Dominic Harrison got to this point.

By Nick Reilly

Live Act Award winner Yungblud (Picture: Kit Oates)

‘Best gig of my life,” came the exhilarated declaration from Dominic Harrison, the pop-punk titan otherwise known as Yungblud, minutes after bringing the house down at a sell-out show at London’s Wembley Arena in February.

Over the space of two hours, Harrison had delivered a show that saw him prove his chops as an electrifying live performer. Standing in front of 12,000 fans, he preached his gospel of inclusivity, acceptance and being whoever the fuck you want to be to a crowd who lapped up his every word. 

“Never be afraid to be yourself. If people don’t like you for it, they’ve got no fucking imagination,” he told them at one early juncture. “You’re fucking brilliant just the way you are. People still misunderstand me. They’ll never fucking get it. But it doesn’t matter because we’ve got each other.”

It’s for this reason that Yungblud is the winner of The Live Act Award. This is the man who is a “Tasmanian devil of pop-rock”, as our cover interview explained last year, but also one who has managed to forge his own individual path as a very 21st-century rock star.

He may have all the uniting energy of the genre’s greatest stars, but he matches it with a unique ability to create a space where his crowd can feel safe from the world for a couple of hours, regardless of their colour, creed, sexuality, or pronouns.

He is also an artist who is unafraid to speak up about global issues and to use his platform for good. At one gig in Delaware, Harrison spoke up about the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian girl killed in her home country by morality police for not wearing her hijab. A recording of Yungblud discussing it was uploaded to his TikTok account. It is currently one of his most popular videos on the app, with nearly nine million views.

“I am not gonna stand here and question someone’s religion, but I am gonna fucking fight for expression. I am gonna fight for freedom, and I am gonna fight for the women of fucking Iran right now,” he said.

It helps that he’s also received the thumbs-up from some of rock’s leading lights, who are only too happy to recognise greatness when they see it. He managed to rope in Ozzy Osbourne, our first-ever recipient of The Icon Award, supported by Visit West Hollywood, to appear in the video for ‘The Funeral’, released last year. Elsewhere, Queen’s Brian May has also given Yungblud his seal of approval — high praise given that the man spent years performing alongside arguably the greatest frontman of all time, Freddie Mercury. 

“Every now and then, while idly scrolling in the park, you come upon something that makes you go ‘Wow,’” May wrote after watching Yungblud’s performance of ‘We Are the Champions’ and defending him against criticism on social media.  

Elsewhere, Yungblud has managed to elevate that live persona even further by performing with the likes of Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes and collaborating on two tracks — 2020’s ‘Obey’ and ‘Happier’, which dropped in October.

To put it another way, this live performer is being recognised, and accepted by some of rock’s most prominent voices — so it’s no skin off his nose if you’re in or not. But if you are, you’ll be in the presence of a star who comes dangerously close to blowing the entire roof off every venue he plays — you’re guaranteed to leave with a bit more fire and passion in your soul.

“I want to be here to eradicate hate from preconception. That’s what I’m here to do for everyone: for you, for me, for every fucker in here, and I want to make a difference in your life even if you know it or not,” he told Rolling Stone UK in 2023. 

In adopting this mantra for his live performances, Yungblud is slowly but surely changing the world.

Taken from Issue 14 of Rolling Stone UK, our Awards Issue. You can buy it here.