NME Awards Show
Haircuts ahoy! The NME Awards tour comes to town with hipsters The Maccabees alongside our own slice of indie cool
The weekly publication hosting tonight's gig is often criticised as being chock full of bandwagon-jumping hyperbole, but there's no denying that if the NME know one thing, it's what's hot right now.
That said, it's encouraging that the mag have booked a lineup featuring Belfast's Panama Kings and Bangor troupe Two Door Cinema Club, bringing the NME Awards tour in Ireland to a close alongside The Maccabees.
The evening gets off to a bone-shaking start, courtesy of a stomping intro from Panama Kings' arresting dance-rock. The band take the opportunity to test-drive a body of new material to a sizeable, but stagnant early crowd.
The new tunes have more of a throbbing electronic leaning than previous work, packing a weighty punch. But what should be the Kings' most notable asset in the distinct vocals of Niall Kennedy hang thinly amongst the heavy synths and percussion. Before long, the rousing set engages more than a few nodding heads - the girls would dance, but they’re too busy looking nonchalant for the guy with the thick rimmed glasses.
With the release of their debut LP, Tourist History due early March, high expectations rest on the shoulders of Two Door Cinema Club, whose entrance prompts the young crowd to squeeze closer to the stage.
The remix EP of 'I Can Talk' - released in November - may be to an electro DJ what a Domino's Meatlover is to a wide-eyed weightwatcher, but the Two Door Cinema Club live sound constitutes a sizeable slice of action too.
‘Come Back Home’ is a fitting opener, with new single ‘Undercover Martyn’ hot on its heels to get things cooking nicely - session drummer Thompson gives the band some welcome ballsy chutzpah.
The Ben Gibbard vocal sentiment of ‘Do You Want It All’ and toe-tapper ‘Eat That Up It’s Good For You’ get the guys and gals doesy-doeing, while ‘I Can Talk’ delivers a thump which, as expected, has the Spring & Airbrake a bit rowdy.
New tunes ‘What You Know’ and 'This Is The Life' are well received, and Two Door Cinema Club finish on the very dancable and infectious 'You're Not Stubborn', wrapping up a performance as tight as the attire sported by Trimble and Co.
Make way then for south Londoners The Maccabees, who play a selection of tunes from their debut Colour Me In and last year’s darker follow-up Wall Of Arms.
'William Powers' chorus of 'I’ll see you when we’re older’ starts proceedings, the audience joining Orlando Week’s fragile vocals. The unassuming Londoners pick up the pace again with the building gusto of 'Precious Time' and are rewarded with big grins from all concerned.
The brass section of sax and trumpets are a tad excitable in ‘Dinosaurs', whilst ‘Can You Give It’ delivers the arms-around-shoulders moment of the night.
Tight, spiky drumming in 'X-Ray' ensures that there's not a dry underarm in the house, whilst closer 'Love You Better' has a fleeting guitar line and enlivened kick drum with Arcade Fire's Funeral written all over it.
It gets a little noisy to fully absorb the sweetness of 'Toothpaste Kisses' and encore 'Bag Of Bones', but that's Belfast crowds for you - we love to drink and then we love to talk.
In its defence, Belfast continues to talk loud and proud about its bands, long after the NME spotlight moves on to something altogether more shiny and new.