Review: NME Awards Tour Live at Manchester Academy

Originally published for Quays News on 21/03/2014. See link for examples of relevant online treatment:

THE annual NME Awards Tour was in town this week, with three of the most hyped bands of 2014 taking to the stage at Manchester Academy alongside iconic headliners Interpol.

Having seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and The Vaccines play in previous years, the NME Awards Tour has gained itself a reputation for giving acts who are on the fringes of the indie scene the opportunity to move onto bigger things.


HEADLINERS: Interpol brought the NME Awards Tour to a close

Hoping to make the most of their shot were opening act Circa Waves. The four-piece Liverpool band have been gaining radio airplay recently with infectious single ‘Get Away,’ and delivered a short but sweet set to an Academy which was barely a quarter full at the time.

Circa Waves’ sound harks back to the dark days of 2008 and the array of generic, ‘landfill indie’ bands which polluted the music scene at the time, but despite their relative unoriginality, the band win the crowd over through the sheer catchiness of their songs and a highly energetic setlist. They’re not going to change the world, but Circa Waves are impressive live and have just enough about them to keep them from being pigeon-holed with The Fratellis of this world.

As more people began to swarm into the venue, duo Royal Blood took to the stage, and hammered out a half hour set of aggressive, heavy rock ‘n’ roll. The Brighton band, comprised entirely of drums and bass guitar, have recently released new single ‘Little Monster,’ which has drawn comparisons to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Rage Against the Machine.

It’s a ferocious sound, and one which is even more impressive considering it’s coming from just two people. With a support slot with Arctic Monkeys at their huge summer shows at Finsbury Park to look forward to, 2014 could prove to be a very big year for Royal Blood if they maintain this level of live performance.

Things chilled out somewhat as the next band were the much-hyped psychedelic four-piece Temples, who brought debut album Sun Structuresto Manchester for the second time this month, after their own headline show at Academy 2 just three weeks ago.

With a haircut Marc Bolan would be jealous of, frontman James Bagshaw and his band look like rock stars before they’ve even played a note, and although it’s far from an energetic set, mesmerising tracks such as single‘Shelter Song’ and the very 60’s ‘Keep In The Dark’ provide the perfect tonic after half an hour of head banging to Royal Blood.

Finally it was the turn of headliners Interpol to entertain a crowd that was (mostly) here to see them. Despite coming on stage in a jacket that looked like it was from Gap Kids in the early noughties, frontman Paul Banks’ vocals were in fine form as the veterans rifled through favourites from iconic debut album Turn On the Bright Lights, such as ‘Hands Away’ and‘Obstacle 1.’

LIVE: Interpol played new song ‘All the Rage Back Home’

Fans were treated to two new tracks from the band’s forthcoming fifth studio album, as well as tracks spanning their entire career, including ‘Evil’and ‘C’mere’ which had the crowd bouncing.

Interpol finished the night off in style with an encore of the atmospheric‘Lights’ and fan favourite ‘Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down.’

The only slight gripe owas that there was no room for standout track ‘PDA’from their debut record, but with four albums under their belt and another on the way, choosing a setlist can’t be easy, especially when your back catalogue is as impressive as Interpol’s.



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