Live Review: NME Awards Tour 2014 (Circa Waves, Royal Blood, Temples and Interpol) [Manchester Academy]

By March 23, 2014 Live, Manchester, Reviews

Making a return to our shores for the first time since their hiatus in 2011, Interpol’s resurrection has been eagerly awaited and it is with this awards tour that they decide to show us that the band is far from dead. Indeed, the NME awards tour offers the chance to slide back in to their groove with a more streamlined, taut performance that fits in to the shorter timeslot. It is, however, also a chance for various up and coming bands to impress, and the night starts with Circa Waves, a fledgling band whose set opens fairly promisingly, some of the riff work boasting an intricate and yet simple quality that means it’s on the verge of being memorable, if only that next step was present. Unfortunately, they find it hard to move beyond one sound for the entirety of the time they’re on stage, so promising ideas are left by the wayside. A disappointing start to the night.

Next come Royal Blood, something of an unknown entity to us, and with expectations low it would be easy to assume we’re in for more promising but frustrating filler before the largest act of the night. To assume that on this occasion though would be to be completely wrong. This band, boasting just two members in the shape of bassist and vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, pack such a punch it’s hard to stay on your feet. Generating such intense, raw, infectious basslines and riffs together with pounding euphoric drums they’re a revelation, and it’s hard to believe Kerr can generate such a concoction of brilliance out of one bass guitar, but he proves that it’s possible. Channelling The White Stripes, Rage Against The Machine, The Black Keys and even Black Sabbath, theirs is a brand of blues rock that sprays a cacophony of painfully dirty riffs right in your face, refusing to let up. There is definitely something to be gained from the live setting for these two, and it’s definitely the case that the more understated the production the more of a bite they have, but it is definitely highly, highly promising stuff prior to the release of their first album, due to be called ‘Little Monster’. A gem of a band, and one to look out for both in terms of their album and any future shows they play in your area.

It’s hard to follow such brilliance particularly when you’re higher up the bill, but psychedelic rock band Temples have a good try. Their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Sun Structures’ was released this February, and their set understandably consists largely of songs from the album, plucked off the CD and played perfectly. With psychedelic rock it is imperative that mistakes are kept to a minimum to maintain its immersive quality, which is another of the cornucopia of ways the band is different from their predecessors. Errors, if there were any, were almost perfunctory in Royal Blood’s set as long as the raw sound was maintained, but this needs to be a much more refined performance, and it definitely is.

And then it’s time for Interpol. After a relatively long wait in between bands the boys finally trot on stage, and with a smile and a quick hello, frontman Paul Banks kicks us off for a rousing rendition of the classic ‘Say Hello to the Angels’. Some fledgling microphone problems aside, it sets the tone for the rest of the night as Paul and co rattle off a heady mixture of singles and album tracks that would disappoint very few Interpol fans given the shorter fifteen song set. It’s certainly very ‘Antics’ heavy, and since the band’s second album is regarded by many fans as being their best, this doesn’t disappoint as the crowd bounces and sings along to every song. A particular highlight is the warbling epic ‘Take You On A Cruise’, a song that showcases Banks’ vocal talent and has a euphoric quality that is difficult to match. Their set is a brilliant way to end a great night, and it’s great to see that they’re back to their best so quickly after their extended break finally came to an end. The live versions of both new songs ‘Anywhere’ and ‘All The Rage Back Home’ sound very promising, encapsulating their trademark operatic, expansive sound with a new, edgier style that works very well, so the future looks bright indeed. Sure, they’ve been gone for a good while, but it’s definitely been worth the wait.



Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons