It’s unfortunate that NME Magazine’s annual Awards Tour falls after the Audit Bureau of Circulations release their figures.
This year another decline in the publication’s sales has sparked rumours that the title is about to go free for the first time ever, and with Glasgow’s Amazing Snakeheads pulling out hours before the tour’s start, and you’ve an event steeped in rumour and controversy.
But unlike the tour controversies that saw the Sex Pistols banned from venues nationwide, the forced ‘antics’ of Palma Violets immediately dispel any rock and roll cool. The beery reputation the band carry is obvious from the off, as members try – and fail – to evoke the ramshackle nature of the Libertines; dual frontmen ‘Chilli’ and Sam Fryer rubbing shoulders despite the ample size of the Academy’s stage.
The music itself is simply lad-rock dressed as shambolic indie, and after the Lambeth four-piece air the half-decent ‘Best of Friends’ a few songs in, many vote with their feet, admonishing the band’s status as headliners.
Things looked better earlier on. New openers the Wytches blasted Leeds with fresh slices of their noisy surf-grunge, presumably from an upcoming second album, and Kent punk two-piece Slaves made the transition from scrappy tongue-in-cheek upstarts to bona fide rock stars tonight (though cheesy entrance music and lyrical tales of Bigfoot hunting suggest there’s still a sense of humour about them). Isaac Holman plays his kit standing up, meaning the band’s set-up is vacant of any low end from a guitar, drums, or otherwise, but it’s a minor point for a band whose snarling vocal delivery and sharp garage-rock guitar lines generate such excitingly frenzied abandon.
Fat White Family’s dirgey rock ‘n’ roll lolloped from side to side but still managed to incite feverish pogoing from the Leeds crowd. The Brixton six-piece managed to keep most of their clothes on, but to witness a Fat White Family performance is to be involuntarily drawn into their warped, lucid world, with psych influences melting like a Dali centrepiece. Invigorating stuff.
Gig date: February 20