In an age where access to new music is becoming easier by the day it begs the question: how relevant are the archetypal rock weeklies? Pre-internet the likes of the New Musical Express along with Sounds and Melody Maker in the United Kingdom were lifeblood of information and reviews for the discerning music aficionado. The writers themselves were seen as style and musical fashion icons with the likes of Paul Morley, Ian Penman and Charles Shaar-Murray setting strict musical rules and agenda’s in the late nineteen seventies and early eighties, with future successful artists such as Morrissey submitting countless articles in a vain hope of joining this elitist club. The magazine as a hard copy is in a rapid decline but what about the NME Tour itself, now in its twentieth year, does that manage to showcase the best in new music? Stereotypically it has mostly been about young white males with guitars, commonly known as ‘alternative rock’, providing a launching pad for successful careers in music, if not artistically then certainly financially. Stereophonics, The Killers, Coldplay have all benefitted from being included on the roster, but for every Florence & The Machines there is a Llama Farmer or a JJ72 disappearing into the void and forgotten forever. For 2015, the NME Tour came to Nottingham’s Rock City on Tuesday, February 24th with Palma Violets, Fat White Family, Slaves, and The Wytches.
Disappointingly due to a combination of unfortunate errors we missed the opening set by The Wytches, but after repeated listens to their debut album Annabel Dream Reader, they certainly have a lot to be optimistic about for the coming year.
Slaves were next; they are part of what appears to be a separate genre forming in the U.K. consisting of a duo of single guitar/bass and drums. Others occupying this category are Drenge with their Nirvana fixation and current British best band at the Brit awards Royal Blood with their Led Zeppelin riffs. Slaves are more aligned with an urban sensibility on top of a punk rock attitude and have been on an upward trajectory since their appearance on national television in the U.K.
Thirdly we had Fat White Family, with their trashy chav yawp, who in a relatively short space of time and one album have left an indelible mark on the musical scene, second only to their compatriots in all things low life, the Sleaford Mods. The Can-like track “auto-neutron” sat comfortably alongside the crowd pleasing sing-along of “I Am Mark E Smith”, but a thirty-minute set was far too short for them to have the kind of impact they are capable of.
For the headliners Palma Violets, it was their second appearance on the tour, but whereas two years ago they were third on the bill behind Django Django and Miles Kane, this time they had the chance to shine as top dog’s with the crowd already at boiling point following the first three sets. The new single “Danger In the Club” was as well received as perennial favourites like “My Best Friend”, and with a new album in the summer their time may just have come, after being almost over-hyped as the next big thing with constant comparisons to the likes of Arctic Monkeys.
Overall the NME Tour has changed little over the previous twenty years as regards the style of music on offer, but when most of the crowd weren’t even at pre-school at that time and were as enthusiastic as it’s possible to get, then here’s to the next twenty.