NOTHING BUT THIEVES
Southend-on-sea’s finest art-rockers host a sold-out spectacular
■ “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?