Saturday, 21 March 2009

NME Awards Tour - Oxford Academy - 17.02.09

Here is an unedited version of something from the March issue (no. 164) of Nightshift, which you should go and have a read of here

I really should know better than to trust the NME’s opinion on things by now. Two years ago I went to the Indie Rave leg of these tours and was shocked just how bad The Klaxons, CSS (a good band normally) and some others whose names escape me, actually were. Tonight is better, but still not the amazing showcase you would hope for.
Firstly take White Lies and Friendly Fires. Please. If this is what passes for the best nowadays I fear for the bands who weren’t good enough. White Lies don’t help their cause by having a singer who bellows like a donkey caught in an animal trap. This combined with some fey eighties industrial greyness makes for an unholy combination. One song sounds like Love Will Tear Us Apart played badly, others are sub-Editors dullness. Their best moment is when a gay disco beat unexpectedly intrudes half way through the last song, but even that can’t save them.
Friendly Fires start promisingly with Lovesick, all bubbling beats, jungle rhythms, yawning vocals, and a whole lot of Rapture. Thereafter the law of diminishing returns applies as they play what appears to be the same song over and over, making the next forty minutes seem the longest of my life.
Before both of these we at least get Florence & The Machine. Florence knows how to work an audience, and doesn’t need any tricks to do it. She just struts around with her kooky imposing stature. It’s a bit disconcerting just how much louder her band is than the others, this is a band featuring a harp after all, but the songs still come through. The singles are the stand outs, Kiss With A Fist with all its resigned brutality and the crystalline beauty of Dog Days Are Over. New song Ghosts is another to remember, it’s pummelling drums which threaten to blow your brains out, making it, in Florence’s words, perfect headbanging material. As their set comes to a close I’m ruing the queueing problems that caused me to miss the start of their set.
From first to last and Glasvegas prove themselves worthy headliners, being head and shoulders the best thing tonight. They know how to make an entrance, unleashing Geraldine right at the start. This is how great stadium rock could sound in the right hands as the band threaten to surge the song right through the roof. Two things seem key to Glasvegas greatness. The rudimentary drumming, standing up and with half a kit, is perfect for the band. Less is often far more. They also manage to pick up the baton from the Jesus and Mary Chain and take the fuzzed up Spector-ish Wall of Sound one step further, a feat they do best on It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry. Flowers and Football Tops, while not as epic as on record, does at least have a maudlin/epic refrain of You Are My Sunshine, while Go Square Go is a barrelling fight club style song, and contains a “here we fucking go” chant. It’s another Glasvegas trick, if the obvious works, may as well use it. The set ends with a cracking version of Daddy’s Gone, again making a sad tale sound optimistic. And for that we should be grateful.

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