Live Review: NME Awards Tour featuring Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets and Peace at Newcastle Academy – 7th February 2013

By on Wednesday, 13th February 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

The NME Awards Tour is a long-established way to kick off the musical year with a quartet of bands that gathered plaudits in the preceding months. This year, we have Brummie style from Peace, noisy London shenanigans from Palma Violets, Liverpudlian swagger from Miles Kane, and sort-of-Scottish art-pop from Django Django. Surely something for everyone, and TGTF was there in Newcastle on opening night to see how things went down.

Peace NME Awards 2013

One’s heart goes out to Peace: their set began just as the Academy’s doors were opening, meaning the crowd was more stunted than they deserve. Nevertheless, there were whoops and hollers aplenty from a knot of dedicated fans right down the front. And any plaudits coming their way are well-deserved. Peace have a knack of honing in on any particular guitar music sound from the last couple of decades, and brilliantly recreating it as their own. ‘Follow Baby’ is a fine bit of pop-baggy last heard from EMF in the very early ‘90s. ‘Wraith’, shorn of its dubious blaxsploitation visuals is altogether more considered, with its funky guitar chops and enormous singalong chorus revealing a fine almost-love song.

But where Peace really sound most at home is in the unashamed power ballad ‘California Daze’. Sweet, sweeping backing vocals melt into a gentle guitar figure, the drums kick things up a gear about 90 seconds in, and the emotion is unashamed. A true lighters-in-the-air moment, which shows their maturity as songwriters and talent as performers. Perhaps for my sins, in the widescreen guitars and breadth of scope, I was reminded of a young U2. Peace deserve the latter band’s wider recognition, and tonight is a decent step towards achieving that.

Palma Violets
(pictured at top) eschew subtlety in favour of noise, wild abandon, and onstage theatricality. Their sound owes a lot to punk – I’m sure there’s one or two Sex Pistols and Clash records in Sam Fryer’s parents’ record collection. Vocals are artfully tweaked out of tune, instrumentation is simple: a synth organ parping underneath distorted guitars. Fryer and bassist Chilli Jesson have a sweaty bromance going on, mic stands intimately close together, double-headed guitar action never far away. Certainly this is raucous, powerful stuff live, artfully lo-fi (as per the obvious and unnecessary tape noise on their recorded material). Are they the true heirs to the art-punk throne? Until their forthcoming album is properly analysed for the presence of decent songs, the jury is still out, but they’re certainly a fun way to spend half an hour.

Miles Kane NME Awards 2013

As Miles Kane takes the stage, it becomes pretty clear that the crowd is his. Perhaps this is because, as his Wikipedia entry states, he is “very attractive”, or perhaps it’s the glint of his diamanté slippers that prove irresistible. Whatever the cause, the audience are big Kane fans, and he doesn’t disappoint them. Having been in bands since the age of 18, Kane knows a thing or two about throwing an onstage shape – for any young trainee frontmen watching, this was a masterclass in the art of swagger. Kane knows this is his big chance, and has got his pedal pressed hard to the floor. Imagine Liam Gallagher’s vocal sneer, his brother’s guitar technique, Alex Turner’s way with a tune, and Paul Weller’s haircut, and we have Miles Kane – a patchwork dadrock man in leather trousers.

But then again, there’s a big hole right now where all the big beasts used to prowl. So step forward Miles Kane, a pseudo-tribute to them all, to keep the guitar-loving public downloading content for the time being. The fact is, most people know what they like, and like what they know, and what they know is what Miles Kane is offering. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it isn’t really. Kane is 100% professional, committed, and no box in the rock playbook is left unticked tonight. And, cynicism aside, that’s not an easy feat to pull off.

Django Django NME Awards 2013

And so it’s left to Django Django to top that. And frankly, it’s a little too much of a jarring contrast to really work well, as the Djangos’ artful and considered musings requiring a little too much concentration in comparison with Kane’s balls-to-the-wall rock. Most of the crowd do stick around, although the atmosphere is noticeably more subdued than previously. Perhaps this is all the better to hear the subtleties in the music, of which their multi-layered arrangements are full. There’s the echo of The Beta Band throughout, which can only be a good thing. To their own audience, with the correct support, Django Django would make a lot more sense. As it is, they are a little too cerebral for the headline slot here tonight. Perhaps a less fickle crowd might await them in other parts of the country…

Overall, this is five-star entertainment: four set of deeply professional musicians, playing somewhere around the top of their game. If you want to find out about new bands before everyone else, this is not the event for you. If you’ve not been paying attention over the last 12 months or so, or just can’t be bothered to keep up, a quick trip to the NME Tour every winter should get you right up to speed with where pop music is right now. That would be a pretty good place, then.

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2 Responses

2:18 pm
13th February 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: NME Awards Tour featuring Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets and Peace at Newcastle Academy – 7/2/13: http://t

[…] Kane’s newest album ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ will be released on the 3rd of June. He also recently appeared on the NME Awards tour alongside Django Django, Palma Violets and Peace. Our North East correspondent Martin Sharman caught the tour in Newcastle, and you can read his account of the night along with viewing his amazing photos here. […]

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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