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Reviews

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NME Awards Tour 2013 - Cardiff University

The New Musical Express has an incredible knack of shaping the nation’s musical tastes (rather like a Simon Cowell for the alternative music scene) and in celebration of this, they’ve been putting their favourite cover stars on the road as part of their Awards Tour since 1996.
Invariably they’re right - Coldplay, Florence and the Machine, The Arctic Monkeys and The Killers are all former tour luminaries - but amongst the million-selling stadium fillers hides the odd clanger (Marian anyone?)

Step forward this year’s class - Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets and Peace. Sadly, the line-up isn’t enough to make tonight a sell-out and any sign of it being an NME hosted show is unclear (probably because the tour posters are stripped from the walls post-haste from eager punters).

Peace are first up and, despite a short twenty five minute slot, they provide a myriad of sounds. Their tunes are accessible enough, but most feel as though they’ve been lifted from previous owners. Higher Than The Sun is a strident indie-rock number but Bloodshake has all the hallmarks of early Foals and Follow Baby channels the spirit of Nirvana, right down to Harrison Koisser’s throaty, Kurt-esque snarl. There is much promise here, but Peace need to find their own identity before enveloping the identity of others.

It may’ve been an off night, but Palma Violets turn out a disappointing performance. The band’s two ringleaders, Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson, pogo and posture with much authority across the stage but their vocals are wincingly bad. When they fire up the droning rock of Step Up For The Cool Cats midway through their set, I feel inclined to step aside.

In comparison to the rest of the bill, Miles Kane feels like an old timer to this game (he’s still only 26) and it’s no surprise his set list is the meatiest. Kane hasn’t struck out with a huge hit in his own right (which is probably why he’s not headlining) but his songs, despite their indie-rock route one approach, are great fun. Like Fryer and Jenson before him, Kane isn’t averse to a little showboating but his almost coquettish interaction with the crowd is witty rather than grating. Former single Inhaler sounds massive and set closer Come Closer draws the crowd into a hearty, communal chant of ‘Miles, Miles’.

Kane put down an impressive marker, but Django Django were worthy headliners. Striding out onto the stage in their matching black t-shirts, they play a synth-bleeping intro before launching into the bouncy, Hawaiian swirl of Hail Bop. The set is awash with huge beats, rattling guitar lines and blinding graphics with the propulsive Default the clear highlight. Some punters feel they’ve seen enough though and begin to filter out of the venue before Django Django wrap up proceedings with the Beta Band inflected Silver Rays. It’s a shame the crowd didn’t hold out a little longer, but it may’ve been a sign that the NME no longer processes the taste making influence it once held with such command. 

Michael Took