What a night. The NME Awards Tour 2013 rolled into Bristol to treat us West Country folk to two of the most hotly-tipped new bands on the face of the planet, a fast-rising rock n roll hero, and a band whose music is capable of blowing minds.
Due to frustrating evening traffic in Bath, and the venue staff taking a while to sort out my press pass, I missed the opening act Peace, and only caught about half of the set from Palma Violets.
Massively hyped by the music press, Palma Violets have been tagged as “the saviours of indie rock”, and their place on this NME tour seems almost compulsory. Thrashing at their guitars, howling out the vocals, they sure seem to be having a good time, and looking out over the excited crowd, it’s amazing how many fans they seem to have gathered in such a short space of time. But it has to be said that their songs don’t carry the weight of the hype, and to my ears they’re more like the next reasonably successful thing rather than the next big thing. But the energy is refreshing to see, and they’re a lot more than Doherty and Barat wannabes. Certainly less shambolic than The Libertines, the added colour of textural organ and the reverb-drenched riffs make them comes across like a more chaotic Vaccines at times. Exciting at times, and definitely promising, but they have a lot more to prove.
Some may think of Miles Kane as a Gallagher wannabe indie rock poster boy, but we need people like him to keep on inspiring kids to pick up guitars and go on to form groups. And with the infectious tunes he delivers tonight, he’s stepping up to a new level. The growth in confidence is evident on the new tracks he plays, the best being the instantly addictive ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, which has the delighted crowd shouting back its “la la la” refrain. There’s so much life in him, and he looks like he’s having a great time, absolutely lapping up the attention from the audience. And feeling like a rock n roll god is clearly good for his performance, as you can tell by the hysteric fans bouncing up and down to the likes of ‘Quicksand’.
Numbers from the first album are delivered with extra power, while the heavier new songs are showcased brilliantly. A couple of years ago, when I first heard his music and saw him playing live on telly, I didn’t think that after such a short space of time, he would become the brilliant performer that I have witnessed tonight. With shows like this and a bag of excellent new material, Miles Kane is proving many critics wrong. A raucous ‘Come Closer’ ends the set, and after his band leave the stage, he leads to crowd into a few more repeat-after-me singalong bits of the song’s chorus before thanking Bristol for a great night. He basks happily in the reception he gets, and you can sense he doesn’t want to leave the stage just yet. When he does, it means it’s almost time for Django Django. Due to his quickly rising profile and already-devoted fanbase, there’s a sense that perhaps Kane should have been headlining this tour. But Django Django are to deliver such an excellent and enjoyable set that leaves the audience in no doubt of their rightful place at the top of the bill.
Standing at the front near the academy’s speakers on the left makes this set a bass-heavy experience right from the thundering intro. After a slightly unconvincing start to ‘Hail Bop’ that’s mostly the fault of sound issues and an unsuitable key shift, Django Django don’t take long to hit top form. The hypnotic groove of ‘Firewater’ is slowed down, fattened and funked up, while an ecstatic ‘Silver Rays’ transforms the Academy into a rave as the shimmering lightshow enhances the atmosphere of their thrillingly inventive sounds. There’s all sorts of stuff going on musically, and the way in which they deliver their clever, unique and infectious songs is an absolute joy to witness.
A mixture of Beach Boys-esque barbershop harmonies, buzzes of analogue synth, arty rhythms and heavily percussive progressions, it’s impossible to label their sound as belonging to any genre. They have a hugely diverse range of influences, and blend all these styles into their own intelligent, off-kilter and excitingly weird sound, which they have managed to bring to life on the stage brilliantly. In fact, it seems like they’ve spent a lot of time honing their craft and enabling it to translate into awesome live experience. They’ve also become exceptional entertainers.
There’s all sorts of entertaining stuff happening visually too, the bassist walking over to help the drummer pound the kit, three of the band all huddled over the synths at the same time, then there’s that big drum that singer Vincent Neff thumps away at during the eastern-flavoured monster ‘Skies Over Cairo’.
As a mighty ‘Wor’ blares over the enthusiastic crowd, it’s a perfect climax to a top-quality showcase of some of the UK’s finest acts, and if you ever see that Django Django are paying a visit to your area, it’s your loss if you don’t get yourself a ticket.
Go HERE to see more pictures from the gig
and watch a playlist of videos I filmed below…