The annual NME tour rolled into Manchester on it’s whistle-stop jaunt around the country with Peace, Palma Violets, Miles Kane and Django Django in tow ready to rev up a crowd with that Friday night feeling.
Traditionally the NME tour is a showcase for bands that are about to breakthrough, giving music fans an opportunity to see an act in a mid-sized venue for a reasonable price before they go on to bigger things. Past tours have seen some now established names play, the last tour I went to in 2006 had Mystery Jets, We Are Scientists, Arctic Monkeys and Maximo Park on the bill, so they are generally on the money.
First up were Peace who to be fair I knew very little about, they’re a four piece from Birmingham who have that very ‘now sound’ of melodic indie like Two Door Cinema Club and Foals mixed with a bit of West Coast America 60’s pop harmonies. They passed by pretty quickly without leaving a lasting memory, the sound wasn’t great either, I’m not sure if this was down to the band or the mixing desk but it was distorted and confused at times. One song I did recognise was Wraith which had the kids down the front moving.
Up next, current darlings of the NME, Palma Violets who have been hyped up as the next great rock ‘n’ roll band, but for me they’re more style and image over music and substance, you hear more about their antics and image rather than their music! So lets talk about the music, well it’s nothing new – imitating The Libertines garage rock with some Buzzcocks punk attitude. Whilst they do have a couple of decent tunes, Best Of Friends being one of them, I felt that they were out of their depth in a venue the size of the Academy. The sound again wasn’t great with some high-pitch feedback hard on the ears. The kids seemed to like it though, maybe it’s me getting old and cynical!!
As a banner went up behind the stage the expectation in the crowd was ramped up with the imminent arrival of Miles Kane, who many people thought should have been headling the gig, given the success he’s had over the last couple of years. So bounding out onto the stage in his usual energetic style Miles launched straight into new song Give Up which has a heavier edge than previous tracks from debut album Colour Of The Trap and was a great way to start the set, getting the crowd right on it! Next up Kingcrawler to cue mass sing-along which was quickly followed by stand alone EP single First Of My Kind and then another new track You’re Gonna Get It which was written with Paul Weller and again has a harder edge with a spiky guitar riff that hints at the 2nd album moving away from the 60’s inspired Mersey Beat of the first album.
I’ve seen Miles Kane a few times live and one thing that stands out is his enthusiasm, you can’t help but get caught up in it and get carried along with everybody else. It’s pretty clear the guy loves playing live and the crowd feed off this to create a monster! This was summed up with Rearrange that takes on a new dimension live going from a pleasant album track to a full on gig stomper! The set came to an end with his two biggest tracks, Inhaler and Come Closer which took the crowd to another level, the bouncing reaching all the way to the back of the room.
It was always going to be a tough ask to follow Miles Kane but Django Django are more than capable of pulling it off, so onto the stage came the Djangos with matching shirts and one of the best albums of 2012 in their locker to call on. Just like the album they kicked the set off with Introduction and Hail Bop all tribal drums, electro beats and 60’s harmonies. By the time Waveforms made an appearance with its squelchy synth’s and broken beats the crowd were dancing away and when Skies Over Cairo dropped we were in full on warehouse rave mode, I did just about manage to resist walking like an Egyptian.
Default is of course the bands most recognisable track and this didn’t disappoint live, combining big electro beats with a simple but killer guitar riff. Silver Rays brought the set to a close in a blaze of bright lights, pounding 4/4 drums, and old school piano house stabs. So did four slightly geeky Edinburgh Art School guys in matching shirts pull it off? I think they did, whilst I would say Miles Kane is the bigger artist Django Django certainly know how to get the party started and they did that!
* Picture courtesy of Danny Cradden Photography & Videography, check out his website here