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Live Review: NME AWARDS TOUR, Rock City (24/2/15)

The annual NME Awards Tour has rolled around again, this year showcasing a decidedly more angsty and abrasive line-up than usual. Tour has previously given artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club, and The Killers the limelight as they burst into the mainstream. This year Palma Violets, Fat White Family, Slaves and The Wytches took to the main stage in Rock City, giving the night a feel of scuzz, post-punk, and rock & roll with a touch of psychedelia for good measure.

As always, there’s a varied crowd at the Awards Tour, although the acts featured this year saw the air thick with testosterone and flying plastic cups on the night. Replacing The Amazing Snakeheads at the last minute, due to the Scottish trio breaking up a few days previously, The Wytches opened with a set of their buzzing “surf-psych” rock to get the evening in swing.

Slaves, in expected form, gave a raw and energetic performance, sparking the most vigorous response from the crowd of the evening

The three-piece went from strength to strength since their formation at Brighton University in 2011, culminating recently in the release of their debut LP Annabel Dream Reader in 2014. The group have a good set of well-established favourites now – their various single releases since 2011 make up much of Annabel Dream Reader, and songs like ‘Burn Out The Bruise’ go down well on the night.

Slaves, in expected form, gave a raw and energetic performance, sparking the most vigorous response from the crowd of the evening. The garage-punk duo from Kent simply demand this – Holman’s biting vocals, drumming and entertaining interludes, coupled with Vincent’s thrashing guitar is a spectacle in itself. The raucousness of their set is amplified by the tracks played – ‘White Knuckle Ride’, ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ and new single ‘Feed The Mantaray’ inspire lively irreverence in everyone. Impact modestly suggests they are a must-see in 2015 if you haven’t already been treated to it.

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Even without decapitated pig-heads and liberal splatterings of faecal matter, Fat White Family demonstrate again that their live shows are a force to be reckoned with. In all fairness, Rock City mightn’t let them back otherwise. Filling the stage with their lairy selves, their country-blues come nihilistic post-punk fills the room with ease. If in appearance their impudence is curtailed, in material they are as audacious as expected – ‘Touch The Leather’, ‘Cream of the Young’, and ‘Is It Raining in Your Mouth?’ exemplify this.

Winning NME’s ‘Track of the Year 2012’ and their ‘Best New Band’ award in 2013, this is Palma Violets’ second time on the Awards Tour

Headlining the evening come Palma Violets, the well-established NME favourites formed in 2011. Winning NME’s ‘Track of the Year 2012’ and their ‘Best New Band’ award in 2013, this is Palma Violets’ second time on the Awards Tour after they featured along with Django Django, Miles Kane and Peace in 2013. Closer to indie-rock than anyone else on the bill, the group’s quality of live performance – the feature that popularised their music back in 2011 – secures their position as the headline act. New tracks from their forthcoming album, like ‘Danger In The Club’, are received as well as the tracks that started it all, like ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’. ‘Best of Friends’ closes their set and so the evening, which, a far cry from the recent BRIT awards, has served to showcase a very different sort of British talent.

James Noble

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