The Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Big Pink, The Drums
Paul Cook 10/02/2010
Despite having nothing but contempt for the NME these days, their tours celebrating new music (and established bands in headline slots) are something that I attend annually. Often it's because one of the four bands shows promise or in the case of this year's Awards Tour, the headliners are exciting and flawless each and every time.
The night began promptly with New York outfit The Drums opening the show with their infectious guitar-pop. The Cure-like tracks Submarine and I Felt Stupid provided particularly memorable highlights as the band performed with buckets of energy and refreshing stage-presence. The Drums have the hooks and live talent to go a long way in the NME-scene but the future might not look so bright in the grand scheme of things. More melancholic turns like that on Instruct Me would benefit the band who have the capability and choice of slotting neatly into the overgrown indie scene or the more niche yet better regarded style of bands like The XX.
Next on the bill was The Big Pink a band whose album has yet to fully grab my attention and in all honesty the one band on the lineup who I wasn't bothered with pre-gig. However, as soon as they got into the moody, atmospherics of Velvet and Introduction to Awareness it became clear why the hype-machine had worked flat out for The Big Pink. Singles Crystal Visions and Dominos came towards the end of the set and the crowd enjoyed every minute. On the whole the show hasn't changed my opinion on The Big Pink entirely, their songwriting is still lacklustre and any more focus on the jumpy, poppy material like Dominos will make them a band who quickly slide out of the limelight. The gloomy, slower tracks are where the band excel and distinguish themselves and it's an area the sophomore album would do well to explore further.
Bombay Bicycle Club were the penultimate act of the evening and unfortunately, despite having fallen in love with I Had The Blues… in the summer, the band were the more disappointing band of the show. Having listened to the album plenty and thus having the ability to sing-a-long with most tracks, it soon became apparent that there was little fun in doing so. Perhaps it was just an odd set list but the pacing of their 40 minutes seemed clunky and failed to flow. Dust on the Ground, Cancel on Me and Sixteen were the only highlights as they were the only tracks that weren't complete drowned out by the drums and bass. It was as if the band were attempting to play heavier and louder than their album is. Tip for 2010: Turn it down a notch guys!
And so the night came to a close with Orlando Weeks' and co doing what they do best; playing another perfect mix of Colour it In crowd pleasers and matured Wall of Arms numbers. Break neck pace, as always, and still proving they're as tight a band as ever, The Maccabees raised the roof. Debut album favourites Lego, Mary and First Love were fantastically vibrant and energetic as ever, all 1500 of the crowd singing along to every word. Tracks such as Young Lions and Wall of Arms display how far the band has come since it's fresh-faced indie-pop days into a mature, unforgettable part of the British music scene.
NME Tours will live long and certainly prosper and for a change a majority, not minority of the bands on this tour can expect the same.