Live Review

NME Awards Tour, Leeds Academy

Win the entire audience over and leave them wanting more, it’s the oldest trick in the book.

The NME tours of recent years have had some huge line ups, most notably the modern ‘classic’ of Kaiser Chiefs, The Futureheads, Bloc Party and The Killers. Usually made up of new bands, this years tour is unusual for the headline slot is taken by The Maccabees - already two albums in and focusing on the third, it goes against the trend set in the past.

That being said, first band The Drums are as new to these shores as you can get, never before having completed a British tour: something singer Jonathon Pierce references throughout the set. Other reviews written of this tour suggest that The Drums are a love/hate band live: whilst DIY have seen others praise Pierce for his flamboyance and showmanship, they’re far from the finished article. They certainly have the songs (no one who has heard the ‘Summertime EP’ can deny the quality of what’s on offer), but live we find they’re somewhat stilted, Pierce’s roaming of the stage forced to the point of awkward: like a Mick Jagger impersonator at a Rochdale karaoke night. The likes of ‘I Felt Stupid’ and ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ are hits with the crowd but for our money, the hype isn’t justified by the performance given tonight.

This may be a tad unfair: they’re followed by band of the night, The Big Pink. Starting with a pure sonic assault of noise, reverb the likes of which only A Place To Bury Strangers can match, they swirl into ‘Too Young To Love’; proof along with ‘Dominos’ that for all the supposed inaccessibility of their music and the niche audience it apparently aspires for, their crafting of a bloody catchy singalong chorus can rival any of the bands that play tonight. ‘Velvet’ is truly stupendous: the crowd below are motionless, stunned into silence until the end when the round of applause is as deafening as anything the band can produce themselves. The afore mentioned ‘Dominos’ is clearly what 99% of the audience have come to hear and it doesn’t disappoint: people next to us are still humming it when leaving the venue.

Bombay Bicycle Club next. It’s a challenge to deign which is the more difficult: writing 200 words on their performance when ‘meh’ would easily suffice, or actually sitting through the whole set without running to the bar. For reasons that truly baffle, the crowd absolutely lap it up. They play all the hits, ‘Evening / Morning’ and ‘Always Like This’ probably getting the best receptions out of the lot. You can’t help but feel that they’re a poor mans version of the headliners though - the angular sound of The Maccabees’ first album that they’ve since left behind, BBC peddle with a slightly riffier edge. Meh, essentially.

So, to the headliners. The accompaniment of a brass section suggests that either they’ve really pulled the stops out for this tour, or that their manager needs to have a word with them about finances. At times crucial to the songs performance live, it’s a very nice touch but unfortunately can get lost in the mix of drums, bass, keys and 3 (THREE!) guitars. The majority of the set is taken from second album ‘Wall Of Arms’, which as a cohesive piece of work is stronger than ‘Colour Me In’, but it’s the singles from this record which receive the most rapturous reception. ‘Precious Time’ into ‘X Ray’ sees the pogoing reach fever pitch whilst ‘First Love’ into ‘No Kind Words’ is a blinding combo to finish the set. While at times they can appear schmaltzy, The Maccabees win the entire audience over and leave them wanting more, it’s the oldest trick in the book.

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