Review: NME Tour

CHRIS BANNON was ‘satisfied with the night’s music’ but not with the crowd.

Bombay Bicycle Club Florence and the Machine NME The Big Pink The Corn Exchange The Drums The Macabees


Friday 19th, 8.00 at The Corn Exchange. £15. 

With previous headliners including The Cribs, Klaxons and The Killers and last year’s best ever line up of Florence and the Machine, White Lies, Friendly Fires and Glasvegas I had good reason to anticipate an exciting night of music.  

The 2010 line up features New York surfers The Drums, electro rock group The Big Pink, polite indie rockers Bombay Bicycle Club and Brighton fivesome The Maccabees.  Did they all make the grade? Well, to an extent. 

Openers The Drums were a bit off the pace. I know NME are heralding them as one of the most promising new bands, but I am still to be convinced that’s not just because they are on their tour. The New York Quartet sing selfish and simple songs instead of focusing on the outside world, and though it seems to be why so many people are attracted to them I say it’s dull.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad – the highlight of the set, single Let’s Go Surfing was catchy – but, I’m just not sure their worth the hype.  Maybe I needed to be wearing shorts, sunglasses and have a beach ball to play with.

The Big Pink is another band all about having fun, but definitely a different kind of fun.  Leader singer Milo barely spoke to the crowd, but with the state their bassist and was in, I wasn’t surprised (a few too many in at the pre-drinks..?).  They were the most ambitious band on the bill and I reckon their album A Brief History of Love was very underrated when released last year.  Psychedelic opener Too Young to Love with it’s hybrid Klaxons and MGMT tones set them on their way.  Velvet was brilliant with it’s tales of falling in love only to lead to heartbreak, ending “I won’t go falling in love.”  This was of course lost on the teenagers, who were chatting among themselves trying to work out how to get served at the bar. The crowd came alive though for set finale Dominos.  One of my favourite singles from last year initiated the night’s moshing.  The girls fell like… well dominos!  Personally, I would need to see them again with a slightly older crowd to be won over.

I did wonder before the gig why Bombay Bicycle Club were billed above The Big Pink.  Then, when the teenagers, high off the smell of beer went crazy to instrumental opener Emergency Contraceptive Blues I realised NME knew their target audience – the kids love Bombay Bicycle Club.  And only kids would mosh in the calm and sombre song Dust On the Ground.  I couldn’t help but laugh at a group of teenagers in matching chequered shirts (very poor form), circle pits being formed and no one going in them (amateurs) and a teenage couple sulking, knocked over mid snog (the crowd aren’t going to stop for you two).  The band itself exceeded my expectations.  Sometimes they were a bit bland, but songs such as Always Like This showed potential. They did appear a bit timid at the start of their set, but they grew with every song – a smile even appeared on lead singer Steadman’s face during the carnage in Magnet.  Remarkable.

The Maccabees were not phased by the pressure of ‘headlining, pulling out an excellent set.  They may lack the ambitiousness of the The Big Pink, but with all five of them on top form and with their horn trio providing extra depth they were the best on the night.  No Kind Words was the evening's anthem, the crowd singing so loud Orlando was struggling to keep on top of them.  Other songs received similar reactions including One Hand Holding and my favourite Can You Give It.  Though they definitely produced a great set but, I am not sure they should have been headlining this tour, traditionally for new bands who have just broken through.  The Maccabees have already released two albums which hardly makes them new.  

I would have picked the XX to headline, but that's an aside. With three exciting performances I was very satisfied with the night’s music.  Just wish the gig had been 18 plus only.