NME Awards Tour 2011 - Cardiff
The last time I attended an NME Awards Tour show at Cardiff University Students’ Union a couple of years ago, bottom-of-the-bill Florence and the Machine were playing to a half-empty hall; no such audience naiveté this time round, however. The Vaccines were first up, with their knowing, literate take on back-to-basics punk-pop – highly melodic and seductive, although only the panda-eyed lead-guitarist made the effort image-wise; “Wreckin’ Bar” was especially well-received. Next up were Everything Everything, the kind of youthful prog-rock virtuosi who, forty years ago, would have been writing songs about elves – mercifully, their subject matter is computer games and teen romance, and they’re well aware of the necessity of providing a dance beat; some of the intricacies were lost to the muddy sound, but on the whole they hit the spot. I feared the worst when, in preparation for Magnetic Man, the road crew installed a huge bank of computers onstage, but my fears were groundless – the spectacular light show provided all the visual excitement which the “three lab-technicians and a Rasta” line-up couldn’t, and just in case we were likely to forget what dubstep was all about, the bass was bone-juddering. Topping the bill were Crystal Castles, the band with which I was least familiar – highly effective electro-pop-dance, with a wall-of-sound impact which may have been ramped up for the live experience, and vocalist Alice not letting a little thing like a broken foot impede her rabble-rousing. A beautiful night, and an encouraging one for those of us who are disheartened by the vapidity of so much contemporary pop.