NME Awards Tour Review (RAT BOY/Drenge/Bloc Party)

19th February 2016

NME Awards Tour Review (RAT BOY/Drenge/Bloc Party)


Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time to see Bugzy Malone open on the night, but this still left 3 great bands to see. First up was rising artist RAT BOY. Despite it being early on, RAT BOY managed to get a relatively large (though noticeably young) crowd going with his mixture of hip-hop and indie rock, taking up the mantle that Jamie T left after he moved towards a more traditional sound on his last album. Starting with his new single ‘Move’ RAT BOY maintained a frenetic energy throughout his set, playing previously released material such as Sign On and Left 4 Dead as well as new song Scum, before closing his set with his most well-known song Fake ID.

After a short breather in which the crowd started to fill up more as we moved towards the headline set, Drenge took to the stage. Opening with Never Awake from second album Undertow, Drenge maintained the frenzied energy in the crowd that RAT BOY started with his set. They played a mixture of songs from both their albums, the songs from their first being noticeably beefed up, due to the addition of bassist Rob Graham since the release of their second album. The change in sound between albums gave their set a nice flow, their newer songs like Running Wild having a huge stadium feel while their older songs provided short jolts of energy creating large pits in the crowd. We Can Do What We Want and F***about provide the highlights of their set for me, being the moments where they combine their rock sensibilities with pop hooks. They finished with standard closer Let’s Pretend, where they encouraged the crowd to shun the activity of making the largest pit possible which usually accompanies the song, instead asking the crowd to get as low to the ground as possible before moshing. I’m not sure this will catch on.

Finally, after another short break in which the crowd continued to fill, Bloc Party took to the stage. Given their new line up and their disappointing lead single to new album ‘Hymns’, I tempered my expectations, though it turned out I had nothing to fear as Bloc Party played a great set. They played a mix of songs from all their albums, though the set understandably drew most heavily from the new album which had been released the week before. These new songs sounded somewhere between the more electronic sound of ‘Intimacy’ and the experimentation of second album ‘A Weekend in the City’. They received a decent reception from the crowd, although it was their older material that received the best reception. One More Chance with its dance-indebted sound got the crowd grooving while the highlight of the entire evening came from the one-two punch of Song for Clay followed by Banquet. The band closed their main set with The Love Within before returning to play an encore including fan favourites Helicopter and Flux.

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