Wednesday, 20 February 2013

NME Awards Tour, Norwich UEA

In the run-up to this annual shindig, much is often made of the frequency with which the opening act goes on to grace the world's largest stages, with names such as Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and, erm, Kaiser Chiefs regularly cited among those who stepped up to the big leagues on the back of the 7pm slot on the tour, a timeslot which, predictably, we managed to miss. Arriving ten minutes into Peace's set, however, it appeared to these ears at least, that a different band had turned up to the Peace we saw at the city's Arts Centre before christmas, as that Peace were a slightly ramshackle but genuinely exciting affair, the kind of band that could inspire stage invasions through a set that rattled along at a melodic lick.  This set sounded a little too cleaned up to me, and maybe the constant touring cycle has left Peace a little too polished for their own good.  There are still tunes, and some of them are bloody big ones, but a little more chaos wouldn't go amiss.

All of which made Palma Violets' job that little bit easier but, to be honest, they could have gone on stage after the Strokes circa 2001 and still given every act who ever appeared under this banner a run for their money.  Here was another band who have put the hard miles in in recent months, but their set maintained an edge that had been lacking earlier in the evening.  180 is shaping up to be the album that soundtracks 2013, and if songs such as Best Of Friends end up dulled through over-exposure, that shouldn't detract from what a blistering collection of tunes they are.  For thirty minutes or so, I more than anything wanted to be the bass player, singer, chief roadie, tee-shirt seller, anything in this band, and that surely is what all bands should inspire in their audience, right?

I don't want to be in Miles Kane's band though.  From the off, I always had Kane pegged as an odd choice for this tour, and nothing that happened during his set changed that opinion.  If I'd heard that he was on the bill with the Courteeners, the Strypes and Jake Bugg I would have understood (though not bought a ticket) , but I've always found his music a bit too Noel, a bit too Kasabian, a bit too bloke, and for me that wasn't what this evening was about.  And the leather trousers looked ridiculous.  Who in God's name holds up Bobby G as a style icon these days?  Inhaler is an IKEA classic, music put together from other bits of stuff that might look alright at first, but is likely to fall apart two or three listens in.  Like Macdonalds food, it starts out kind of alright, but soon leaves you a little bit angry with yourself for partaking.  A fellow Owl spent Kane's set listening to mbv through headphones, which should be the last word on the matter.

And the final word on the evening goes to Django Django, who brought Friday night, hands in the air good times to the youth of Norwich, thoroughly justifying their slot at the top of the bill and inspiring stupidly drunken grins from most of those present through a set of songs that took us up and then down in all the right places.  Spilling out into the cold air and predictably fruitless search for a taxi, it was, for the most part, heartening to realise that British music continues to be in safe hands.  Just next time NME, ditch the leather pants.


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