This NME Awards Tour article was written by Steven Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Fraisia Dunn
The NME Awards Tour is always a guaranteed good night. There’s always going to be at least one band on the lineup that gets the crowd frenzied and creates the exact kind of atmosphere you want from a gig. Fortunately, tonight, all four were that band.
Bugzy Malone, a grime staple, was representing one part of the youthful thought spectrum. From the moment he hit the stage he had the crowd where he needed them and they him. Powering through his set with no abandon, he was here to take no prisoners.
Ratboy, who has seen his traction increase rapidly over the past few months, was up next. The reason for his success is surely his ability to be a voice for the younger generation, especially those who are perhaps not fans of grime. He’s approachable by all cliques, and using his Jamie T-esque craft he speaks matter-of-factly about things we can all relate to. The crowds gathered at the stage were wild in their reception of his songs and this affirm his success. ‘Sign On’ is his clear breakthrough track, receiving the largest movement in the crowd and loudest sing along; the future is definitely bright for him.
Next up was Drenge. The grunge trio from Derby are the first of the big hitters tonight. The moment they start playing the crowd enter a frenzy that is only furthered by Bloc Party later on. Bruising through a set balancing both their debut record and latest release ‘Undertow’; the entire set is unrelenting, only slowing things down for a brief moment with ‘Fuckabout’.The addition of third member Rob Graham adds a new dimension to the size of the Drenge sound. The bass creates a thicker, more powerful mix that envelopes the entire room. When playing older material Graham takes up secondary guitar which allows for sporadic development of the tracks’ structure. Drenge have gone from strength to strength and live they are a force to be reckoned with.
As headliners Bloc Party took to the stage, the entire attitude of the venue changed. It went from the crowd being participants to becoming a fully fledged part of the show. Beginning with one of the leading singles from fifth album, ‘Hymns’, ‘Good News’ was a perfect opener. The slide guitar that welcomes the chorus is just sleazy enough to beckon the crowd into a frenzy, which itself is an understatement. Having five albums worth of material is both a blessing and a curse.
With all of the choice you have for a setlist you are bound to leave out some tracks that the crowd want to hear. Omitting ‘The Prayer’ was one of those, it was a massive hit for the band back in 2007, and is easily a staple; it would have potentially made a better finale than ‘Ratchet’, a cut from their third EP. A rarity yes, but crowd pleaser? Maybe not. Nevertheless, Bloc Party managed to prove that although they aren’t the same band they were 10 years ago, they are still relevant and people still adore them. Just ask the continuous mosh pits and singing fans. Obviously the most well received songs were the hits from the hit debut album ‘Silent Alarm’, particularly ‘Helicopter’ which caused near riotous results.
Peculiarly, for a lineup such as this one, and the tenure of the event itself, tonight wasn’t actually sold out. A strange fact considering the status Bloc Party actually have, along with the venue size. However, those who were in attendance were certainly bestowed with top performances from each act, there were no half-arsed attempts at sets and they delivered exactly what they needed to.