Saturday, 1 May 2010
Three very different bands! - from dancing upbeat, to charged rock and lastly stylised 80s rock.
First on stage was the very likable Darwin Deez from New York, and he and his dancers were a lot of fun. They literally bounced on stage and then performed the first of several slick dance routines, and very fit they are too! Darwin seemed to smile his way through his set, and he made eye contact often - and at the end of the set he said,'oh you like us!' They were also set up to focus on the edges and middle of the audience and in so doing kept us with them. I got some energetic fun shots of them. After I noticed them mixing and chatting with the audience which I thought lent a good touch and only adding to their popularity - rather than any 'aloofness'. Darwin's music was in the Conor Obrest style. I also spotted Darwin dancing at the front with his very long arms waving loosely during Everything Everything's set!
Next up were 'Everything Everything' - a rock band in red lights. There was a positive energy from this fresh rock band, while their lead singer has a strong voice with the elastic range and punch of a younger Tom Yorke. They had a good crowd of supporters there who seemed to enjoy their set. I was handed their set list so here it is - Intro, Suffragette, Schoolin, Qwerty, Engine Room, Tin, Photoshop, MY KZ, Weights.
We then waited patiently as the stage was set up for the last act another Manchester band called Hurts. Their set had a white backdrop with lights facing the audience - and this was in stark contrast to the reds of Everything Everything with their charged rock music. Hurts were named in a BBC poll of one to watch in 2010. I met Adam earlier when he came out to the bar area, and I said how much I liked their songs that I'd heard on YouTube - and he looked very smart in a red waistcoat. He said he had played at King Tuts before - with their previous band Daggers maybe?
Hurts are a duo with Theo the lead singer and Adam their keyboard player.
Theo has depth and an edge in his voice that grips your attention with 'striking moody charisma'. He used gestures and his eyes to communicate with us, as if looking to the far horizon for those answers. He has Hollywood actor good looks, while his style is measured and understated with a 'slow-burn sexiness'. Theo holds the mic firmly and he is pensive and still as lights hover above him. They started their set with the drama of 'Silver lining' - followed by Happiness, Wonderful Life, Blood Tears and Gold, Stay, Sunday, Illuminated and Better Than Love. They have this dark moodiness in contrast to their positive songs. Theo is a very good front man and has charisma and a good voice. They ended with the hopes of 'Illuminated' which is a wonderful uplifting song, and with new single 'Better Than Love' - he even smiled a little by then! It felt like the drama of one of those silent movies where everything is in the gesture and more is said. The lighting varied greatly during their set from moody blues to reds - which made taking photos a challenge! I loved the retro feel of it with the stark black and white imagery re their 'Wonderful Life' video. Theo may want to be an 80s style Gary Numan or Depech mode perhaps but for me Roxy music is cooler. Numan looked sideways with his large eyes. Theo is not Newman, he's his own very distinctive persona - and he looked the dapper dude which all gels well with the band's sound. His eyes certainly have it - and Hurts performed songs with Big choruses! They release their second single Better Than Love May 2010.
While doing an NME tour must be fun - there must also be a pressures on these young artists. I heard that Darwin Deez arrived in a white van about 4 while a large tour bus sat outside.
*In the 80s I fell in love with MTV, and it is hard to describe what a huge thing this channel was back then. The 80s saw the start of stripped down punk sounds - in a reaction to the over the top and often over-produced and over-dressed rock bands of the late 70s. I remember first seeing U2 in the snow for New Years Day, the boss Bruce Springsteen singing in this huge stadium 'Dancing in the Dark, and Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' and more - and it was a heady revitalized time. Apart from a few short films by the Beatles, when they couldn't manage to perform on 'Top of the Pops' every week they were at number 1, we hadn't seen music vidoes. In the 80s with the new channel MTV - we were treated to Tears for Fears; Peter Gabriel's 'Don't Give Up'; Dire Straits 'Money for Nothing'; the Eurythmics 'Sweet Dreams;' The Pet Shop Boys 'West End Boys'; Crowded House 'Something So Strong' - as things went more minimalist. It seems like yesterday and ages ago too. Many very cool songs. There was also a lot of totally OTT music in the 80s too! - as things went with bigger hair, shoulder pads, power dressing and more excesses.