NME Radar Tour featuring Hurts, Everything Everything and Darwin Deez
Academy 3, Manchester
Wednesday April 28th, 2010
Not content with its weekly magazine, website and online radio station, the NME is back on the road. The Radar Tour, a less prestigious little sibling of the NME Awards Tour which has previously launched the careers of Arctic Monkeys amongst others, brings four emerging bands to Manchester tonight.
Fugitive Motel editor Kate and myself are still deep in conversation at the students' union bar as the Academy 3 lights are dimmed. The Heartbreaks, a highly-rated local act invited to open the show, have passed us by entirely. We arrive just in time to catch Darwin Deez, the eccentric American hipster-in-chief, play the last few bars of his breakthrough track Constellations. Thankfully the best is yet to come, as songs such as Bad Day demonstrate his energetic pop songcraft, the perfect antidote to a bout of narcolepsy (both Radar Detector and, erm, Bed Space make lyrical reference to mattresses).
Backed by a band seemingly comprised solely of extras from Wayne's World (SCHWING!), his dance routines soundtracked by Beyoncé's Single Ladies and The Bangles' Walk Like An Egyptian showcase choreography to put the Pussycat Dolls to shame, and a sense of humour that most musicians (and several stand-up comedians, for that matter) would struggle to match. “This is my life's work”, he announces towards the end of the set, and who could fail to be impressed by his efforts?
Next up are Everything Everything, a band whose support slot alongside The Juan MacLean I slated on this very website almost a year ago to the day. On tonight's evidence, it time to reconsider those opinions. As a band who are so obviously indebted to the art-pop experimentalism of Talking Heads, their sound is surprisingly fresh and individual. Early single My Keys Your Boyfriend is a highlight, and the oddly pornographic chorus (“# who's going to sit on your face when I'm not there? #”) of Suffragette Suffragette (are they suffering from some sort of speech impediment, or do they deliberately set out to repeat themselves, like the long-lost indie cousins of Fred Elliot from Coronation Street?) is typical of the high spirits with which each of their songs are spiked.
By this point, Manchester's most hyped electropop duo Hurts have not one but two hard acts to follow. However, they fail to rise to the occasion of a headline performance in their hometown. Immaculately attired in matching tuxedos, the five musicians of their expanded live line up deliver a performance which is highly polished yet lacking in passion, the very definition of style over substance.
In addition to textbook 1980s influences such Bronski Beat and Spandau Ballet, they evidently take inspiration from the proggy sonic adventures of Muse. Nevertheless, few of their songs compare with the elegant melancholy of their debut release Wonderful Life, and they seem more concerned with striking the right poses than striking the right notes. This may indeed be a ruthless assessment of a band on the brink of mainstream acclaim, but sometimes the truth Hurts.
words: Benjamin Thomas
Everything Everything picture by Sebastian Matthes (manox.net) for Love and Disaster Records
The NME Radar Tour continues, calling at The Duchess, York (May 8), Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (9), Koko, London (10), Norwich Waterfront (11) and Roadmender, Northampton (12).