By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
It’s incredibly fair to say that right now, Nothing But Thieves are one of Britain’s hottest musical prospects, and their intimate performance at Birmingham’s O2 Institute 3 on Friday further cemented their status as future stadium fillers.
Playing a few intimate shows in tiny venues across the country to promote brand new single Amsterdam, and to get their eye in ahead of the inevitable tour to promote upcoming album Broken Machine, the few hundred fans that were lucky enough to get tickets for each show knew that they’d be subjected to a full frontal assault, and if they didn’t know, hoo boy, were they in for a surprise.
Kicking off the show with a three-pronged assault in the form of Ban All the Music, Wake Up Call and Painkiller from their eponymous 2015 album, the energy coming from the 250 strong Birmingham crowd would be enough to keep the city illuminated for a week straight. With that being said, the power coming from frontman Connor Mason‘s voice is easily enough to recreate that scene in Monsters, Inc. where Boo causes a massive power surge: that lad must have a third lung and a second set of vocal cords with a pitch you could set your watch to.
It wasn’t all about the golden oldies though. Brand new track Design made an appearance at this gig, a heavy track with a dark, brooding edge which, if setting the tone for Broken Machine, will be an absolute stormer of an album and definitely one of the centerpieces. Second album syndrome can hit many bands like a ton of bricks, but the creative cauldron at NBT HQ seems to be bubbling over.
MINI TRCK RVW: AMSTERDAM BY NOTHING BUT THIEVES
The song starts with a quiet synth sound before the riff starts and Connor Masons unique and superb vocals kick in. The song has a very alt rock/indie feel overall, yet remains unique in a genre which these days seem overdone and repetitive. The chorus of the song shows off the vocals, ranging from high pitched to low with ease. It begins to die down for a few seconds, before going into a very well produced breakdown, featuring dimming vocals, a shallow scream, and amazing drum work. The bridge of the song is a quieter section, with distorted guitars and the lyrics “I left my heart in Amsterdam” repeated throughout. There is a short buildup before a beautifully executed isolated vocals section leads into the final section of the song. The track abruptly ends and goes into the same synth sounding section as it started with.
– By Gregor Farquharson (@gregoratlantic)
Fan favourite Itch was followed by a sombre minute of silence for the victims of Monday’s horrific terrorist attack at the MEN Arena, where 22 people tragically lost their lives. They went to enjoy seeing their favourite artist perform live and never came home, something that should never, ever happen. Followed by a minute of sheer, raucous noise to also celebrate their lives, the energy and emotion was tangible. Getting a classic vibe on, if you can call Nothing But Thieves tracks classics (future classics definitely), Last Orders and Emergency from 2014’s Graveyard Whistling EP made an appearance.
Paying tribute to the already missed, dearly cherished Chris Cornell who recently took his own life at the age of 52, a cover of Audioslave’s Cochise burst through the tiny venue, and if there’s one man for the job, Connor Mason can handle that Cornell scream. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful man, we miss you so much already Chris.
Another new song (because it’d be rude if they didn’t) got debuted in the form of Get Better, a slower track that perfectly captures the calm-in-the-eye-of-a-storm Nothing But Thieves vibe. Whilst they have an incredibly listenable sound, there’s also a very unique edge to it.
Making an appearance for the first time on this tour, Neon Brother was well received, with an all hands on deck singalong to Excuse Me, which had a beautiful jam at the end, but instead of an extended jam, they could have had something like Lover, Please Stay, instead, but it’s apples and oranges, both are delicious.
Finishing off with Trip Switch and brand new single Amsterdam, the sweat had begun to drip, but it was all worth it to see one of Britain’s hottest bands on tour. Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you listen to, pick up a copy of their album, plug yourself in and make sure you see these boys live, because before too long, you’ll be fighting off the crowds to get the worst seat in an arena.