NME Awards tour: Florence and the Machine, White Lies, Friendly Fires, Glasvegas

 January 30, 2009         Leave a comment

I went to the NME Awards Tour last night featuring Florence and the Machine, White Lies, Friendly Fires and Glasvegas. To illustrate the point that the tour is sponsored by Shockwaves there were loads of people with stupid haircuts.

The last time I went to an NME tour gig I think Salad may have been one of the acts, while The Bluetones and Cardigans were on another one together.

The best bit in the mag was reading about the after-show parties where the bands fraternised. After witnessing Glasvegas’ icy facade I’m not sure there would have been a huge amount of backstage partying at the Liverpool Guild of Students – a building I practically lived in for two years a decade ago.

It was good stuff, but it felt a little flat. This is possibly due the fact that the show lasted comfortably over five hours, an agonising length of time for any 30-year-old man with a dodgy back and nicotine cravings. Annoyingly Please Come Back Home, their best song, was absent.

The band’s glacial stage presence didn’t help under the circumstances, but I was unsure whether this a studied affectation or simple arrogance. The same goes for their resolutely “we’re from Glasgow, hen’ shtick.

Either way their set was highly stylised and an immersive experience with their epic walls of sound, grimy kitsch romance and wintry visuals. James Allan sounds like a drunk who’s been smashed in the face by his ex’s new boyfriend. It’s snowing, but he’s still a hopeless romantic.

Friendly Fires, a band with a cracking name, make house music for people who don’t like house music and are fronted by a young man from Channel 4’s Skins who seemed to spend the night having an epileptic fit. Interestingly their saxophone player appears to be Francis Dollarhyde from Manhunter.

Singles Jump in the Pool and Paris are OK. The end of their set is a tedious extended samba percussion wigout. I’ve seen them compared to LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, who are both good. Friendly Fires are rubbish.

Bedsits, abortions, child murder, chronic illness, depression, cigarettes, filth, bruises, cheap pornography. If White Lies have a manifesto it’s probably this. It may also be their setlist.

Not bad, but in a world that already has Interpol and Editors ploughing their miserablist furrows, I’m not sure you need another – although this latest Joy Division for the noughties are fronted by Midge Ure, which is novel.

I only caught ten minutes of Florence and the Machine, but it was enough to see a rousing rendition of Dog Days Are Over and see the lady herself take a leap into the crowd. It’s heartening to see a lady with an ample chest pogoing around on stage before diving into the waiting arms. Briefly she was held aloft, but she slowly sunk beneath the waves and wasn’t seen again that night.

• Click here for a good photoset on Flickr of the gig.

• Absurdly most of the videos above are available from the record company on Youtube, but just to show that they do not understand marketing, Web 2.0 or social media they’ve banned embedding. Dickheads.

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