Sunday, 17 February 2013

NME Awards Tour - Birmingham

NME AWARDS TOUR starring Peace, Palma Violets, Miles Kane & Django Django

Whilst in the middle of my gig fest last year I had booked this, as I slavishly looked through the listings for the best gigs here was one I couldn't really pass up, four for the price of one it felt like. Local boys Peace, the new Vaccines hype in Palma Violets, Miles Kane - I've bought tunes of his in 3 different guises at least and then Django Django - a band I missed due to going on holiday - it was meant to be.

So the gig rolled round, my mood not the best having seen the beloved Birmingham City get 'Spanked' (technical term) by Watford 4 nil. When I wandered through the middle of Brum I started feeling old with the number of youngsters congregating around the Floozy in the Jacuzzi with back packs, one dressed as Rimmer from Red Dwarf. Then surreally there was a Brass Band playing outside the town hall. Wandered down John Bright Street only to find the once hub of everything in the 80's which has been empty for years now has a very trendy bar 'Brew Dog' in it, bizarre to see how things come around.

Heading into the o2 the Police were very good to confirm that there were pickpockets in the venue and we should keep our wallets and phones (and sweets judging by lots of members of the queue) safe.

Entering the venue in time for the first song to start from local  indie hopefuls Peace. I have heard a little about them but they looked a good bet for a break through. Lots of swagger and confidence no doubt helped by a core of home fans in the mosh pit. This being the NME tour 30 minutes in and they were gone. But like busses wait a few minutes and another quality band will come along.

Lights dimmed and the Damned's New Rose blasted out of the PA, quite a cocky song for a band to come onto, but for the first 3 or 4 songs they lived up to it, shared guitars and vocals from the front 2 led to a wondering of 'this must have been what the Doors were like' as we had screams and wails (from both singers, guitars and accompanying keyboards through red smoke) and wondering whether this was what the Stones would have been like in the 60's with a song which lifted heavily from the last time.

My ears definitely were given a thorough work out and are still ringing with another stand out track 'Step up for the cool cats' sounding like the best track Baby Bird never made (this is a massive compliment, I love Baby Bird). The set did lose its way a little, with us being implored to raise our hands, we were assured we knew why, song started, we lowered them, I am none the wiser but hey. They wrapped up an enjoyable set with 'Ode 14' apparently the first song they wrote which was pretty impressive considering....

Another little wait entertained by Twitter and facebook (what did we do before them.......oh yes, the bar) and on came Miles Kane. We knew it would be him as the back drop announced in 6 foot high lettering ALA Elvis Presley 'MILES KANE', so we were prepared. Interesting set from Miles, his ego is very much aligned to the lettering. When he strutted onstage my mind wandered and I couldn't help wondering if he was the result of a Britpop cloning experiment which extracted the jacket, swagger, songwriting and haircut of Liam Gallagher and spliced the rest into John Power of Cast.

Now I like John Power - I have even bought his solo albums in the past, and I have enjoyed Liam too, but its not the cream of Britpop. I enjoyed the songs, but didn't come away with the buzz of the Palma Violets.  The highlight was the finale Quick Sand, which was superbly milked, we got a disguised intro, sing alongs, false ending, bows, further sing alongs, exit stage right, run back on to milk applause, and finally off. Now that was (as the kids say) 'mint'.

Finally on came the headliners, and from the off you could tell they were different, all in matching shirts (first band since the Hives that I have seen) and they launched into their set. This included multi instrumentalism (I don't recall seeing coconut shells outside of a primary school before) on percussion and really thought through lighting, first song with black and white imagery beamed onto the blinded windows at the back of the stage - very Hitchcockian, the second with stripes horizontal dark and light projected - never seen that before either.

They were really enjoying themselves on a Saturday night at their biggest ever gig, the electronics were thumping round but interestingly the crowd seemed to have visibly thinned - now maybe many of them had to leave as it was past bed time at gone 10pm but more realistically this 'Art Rock' may well have jarred against what was served up by the first 3 acts. Less sing alongs were present too. We were introduced to the band from Derry, Dundee, Leeds and Edinburgh I think - suggesting they had maybe met at Uni - and this came out in the sound through precise thought through stuff rather than thought up in mates bedrooms.

A particular hi point was the 'over Cairo' song - sounding very Egyptian we were asked (as boys) to dance like Mark Anthony and the girls like Cleopatra - 'Are you with us' screamed the lead singer - not too sure I think was the muted response - ........but then everyone was 3 minutes later, penultimate song, and single 'Default' was a definite crowd pleaser, with the chorus 

Take one for the team you're a cog in the machine,
it's like a default
Take one for the team you're a cog in the machine,
it's like a default 

Being shouted by the masses - they had won every one round.

Rounding off with WOR - another great single allows the gig to be wrapped up by the pun of, that was a long gig, 'WOR and Peace' - I was pretty pleased with that if I do say so myself.

Cracking value for money.