Friday, 11 February 2011

NME Awards Tour, Leeds Academy

It's not long after the doors of the Academy are flung open, that 'Indie Landfill' hopefuls The Vaccines take to the stage as the opening act for this year's NME sponsored variety show. Unfortunately for the band, the early start has caught many ticket-holders unaware, and the venue is only half full as they start their thirty minute set.  The relatively small crowd appears to knock the band off their stride, and a sluggish performance is only livened up by current single 'Post Break-up Sex' and a rousing rendition of 'Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra). On a better day, I can imagine The Vaccines would provide good value for money, as many of their songs appear to be written with the live music experience in mind (lots of memorable shout along choruses and head banging guitar riffs), but aesthetically, the band don't really work. The three band members stage front (I couldn't really see the drummer as he was stuck behind his kit) look as if they have all stepped out of different bands (Talking Heads - lead guitar, Pavement - lead singer, Mudhoney - Bass) and therefore don't really look right.  I appreciate this is a small gripe, but bands such as The Strokes (coolest kids in school) and The Happy Mondays (thieving scallies) for example, have an identity that helps to perpetuate our idea of 'the band' and their 'all for one and one for all' attitude. This is something I don't get with The Vaccines. And that is a shame, as it is a great name for a band. 

Identity is something that Everything Everything take very seriously, and is evident as they take to the stage in matching grey boiler suits. Sticking to the funkier tracks from their debut album 'Man Alive' the band force the now sizable crowd to shake their skinny white asses with lively versions of QWERTY Finger, MY KZ, UR BF and Photoshop Handsome. Unashamedly arty, I cannot help but wonder had he still been alive, whether Anthony H. Wilson would have considered relaunching Factory Records and signing Everything Everything to be his house band ala A Certain Ratio. My enjoyment of the band was dampened a little, when a fellow Velvet Owl claimed the band reminded him of Take That, with the short, stumpy singer looking a little awkward in his jumpsuit next to his good looking bandmates (the Gary Barlow of artrock, anyone?).

By the time 'Dubstep Supergroup' Magnetic Man took to the stage behind a trestle table groaning under the weight of Apple Macs, the Academy was rammed. Looking around the venue, it was clear to see that the history and chemistry textbooks were being left in the school bags tonight, as the teenagers of Leeds were out in full force. From the opening squelchy bass chord, the kids waved their hands in the air like they just didn't care (that they had to get up for their milk round at 4.30am) and partied like it was 2045(pm). While the music - a mish mash of dance music genres taking in drum and bass, electro, hip hop, happy hardcore and rave - didn't appeal to my sensitive ears, I did enjoy the moment of being down with the cool kids and watching them lose themselves in the pleasure that live music can offer.

The sheer sensual onslaught that was Magnetic Man and the noticeably smaller crowd (those pints of gold tops won't get delivered by themselves you know) left headliners Crystal Castles feeling a little bit of an anti-climax. However, despite singer Alice Glass having broken her ankle at the previous night's show and therefore looking like a jack-booted Cinderella having fled the ball on the stroke of midnight, the duo put on a sterling show with 'Celestica' and 'Not in Love' still managing to keep those weary hands in the air.   

For less than £17 a ticket, the NME Awards Tour is still the best value for money around when it comes to the live music scene. And while some of these bands won't be gracing my ipod anytime soon, it was good to see and listen to what is floating the proverbial boat of our nation's youth.

Lets hope they never grow out of it.

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