Southend-on-sea’s finest art-rock­ers host a sold-out spec­tac­u­lar

Kerrang! (UK) - - Reviews -

■ “We’re Noth­ing But Thieves and we’re from Es­sex. Thank you for com­ing down,” says NBT singer Conor Ma­son in a tone so ca­sual you’d think his band were open­ing in a lo­cal boozer rather than head­lin­ing Lon­don’s Alexan­dra Palace. De­spite this his­toric Grade II listed venue hav­ing shifted all of its 10,400 tick­ets, this is an evening that ex­hibits suc­cess beyond ticket sales, or the im­pres­sive flash of their epic light­ing rig and screen pro­duc­tion, or the ring­ing tills as Christ­mas jumpers and foot­ball scarves are snapped up from the mer­chan­dise stands. Noth­ing But Thieves con­tinue to do suc­cess well, and also a lit­tle dif­fer­ently.

De­spite emerg­ing out­side of any dis­cernible scene, the quin­tet have be­come some­thing of a cult. This is largely thanks to a unique mar­riage of mu­si­cally om­niv­o­rous ar­range­ments with highly-per­sonal lyrics from a sub­lime voice not born of rock’s world – as il­lus­trated by acer­bic yet an­gelic opener I Was Just A Kid. It’s taken from the band’s sec­ond al­bum, last year’s Bro­ken Ma­chine, but the band aren’t rest­ing on their lau­rels, hav­ing al­ready writ­ten and recorded new EP, What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way?, while on the road. Ad­mirably, they play three of its four songs tonight, with Take This Lonely Heart, You Know Me Too Well and For­ever And Ever More prov­ing this lat­est re­lease is no to­ken ges­ture, but proof pos­i­tive of a band will­ing to use their el­e­vated plat­form to take risks with re­gards to their mu­sic and when and how they dis­trib­ute it.

De­spite the ex­pan­sive na­ture of all these tracks, this 18-song set is some­how a model of lean ef­fi­ciency, dot­ted with favourites through­out, in­clud­ing a beau­ti­ful pi­anoled Par­ti­cles, and fin­ish­ing with a rush­ing Am­s­ter­dam. “We re­ally left our hearts in Lon­don,” says Conor, para­phras­ing the song’s lyrics. In re­turn, they’ve taken Lon­don’s hearts away with them, too. JAMES HICKIE

Em­bar­rass­ing, need­ing the loo just be­fore head­ing into the vor­tex…

Torches are re­ally pow­er­ful these days, aren’t they?

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