The NME Radar Tour is not to be confused with what us old fogies would know best as The Brat Bus Tour (before the evil world of corporate sponsorship turned it into the NME Shockwaves Tour) which started in the mid 90′s and has generally been a good indicator of bands that go on to bigger and better things. Notable acts to be sent out on this tour include The Bluetones, Stereophonics, UNKLE, Coldplay, Idlewild, Lostprophets and more recently The Vaccines, Florence and the Machine and Friendly Fires. The RADAR tour is generally used as a way of providing exposure to what is considered more unknown acts. Essentially the format is pretty simple, send out a batch of the hottest new bands that may not have had the benefit of Radio 1 airplay to get exposure around the country with the NME attraction hopefully persuading willing gig goers that this is the time to see these acts before they go on to bigger venues and more expensive ticket prices (tonight’s show is reasonably priced at just under a tenner). Previous acts on the RADAR tour include Anna Calvi, Hurts, The Joy Formidable, La Roux, Everything Everything, White Lies and Maximo Park. You’d do well to at least pay a bit of attention to bands on these tours.
Proudly headlining this current tour is the excellent Wolf Gang who are coming off the back of a rather hectic festival schedule into this their first proper headline tour since the release of debut album Suego Faults. Wolf Gang is of course a solo project perpetuated by the multi-talented Max McElligott, but tour as a full band and hence forth will be referred to as a they rather than he to save confusion. Support comes in the form of the much heralded S.C.U.M. and the rather unknown Swede’s Niki and the Dove, DZ Deathrays will join the tour at a later date.
Support bands like most under card festival slots always have a battle on their hands to get people to pay attention to them and also give a fair representation of what they are about in a relative short time span. Niki and the Dove managed to dig out a great set. Lead singer Malin is a passionate performer with a string of wacky hand gestures all timed perfectly with the music. Their sound is a happy medium between Kate Bush, Bjork and Bat For Lashes. Standout songs were ‘The Drummer’ and ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ The band seemed genuinely touched by the applause and reaction at the end of each song, this was very endearing and in total contrast to the next band on S.C.U.M.
There’s no better incarnation of the ultimate hipster band at the moment than S.C.U.M. Taking over the mantle from their obvious influence The Horrors. They turn out in a mixture of all black turtle necks horrid high waistlined trousers and crossdressing by drummer Melissa Rigby. The apparent lack of effort underlies exactly how much effort they are obviously putting in to their look. Lead singer Thomas Cohen looks like he’s just been dragged out of an opium den. Their performance is over aloof with very little audience interaction and smacked a little that this band is starting to believe in their own hype. As a sound they portray themselves as a poor mans Horrors with a wannabe Lou Reed at the helm. Cohen even did the clichéd Liam Gallagher walk off once his vocal had finished during their last number ‘Whitechapel’. To say they didn’t exactly go down well would be the kindest thing I could say.
This being the first night of the tour there was obviously going to be teething problems and this was evident by the time Wolf Gang took the stage over 30 minutes late and dangerously close to 11pm curfew. We were hopeful this wouldn’t cut short the set….our luck was in. Playing the longest set of their career with new songs, Wolf Gang delivered a hugely accomplished set.
Max, enigmatic and engaging his cohorts capably providing the sonic platform for him to work his magic. This is the third time in a few months we have seen Wolf Gang previous sets at Leopallooza and Boardmasters show just how far they have come in a short space of time. They look totally comfortable with their headline mantle. The synth driven Baroque Pop they deliver is the perfect tonic for a Sunday night and has the majority of the somewhat modest audience bopping the night away.
We were treated to a first airing of new song ‘The Kill’ in a set that was pretty much bookended by their biggest hits in ‘The King And All Of His Men’ and closing tune ‘Lions In Cages’. Stand out tune for me however was the much underrated ‘Midnight Dancers’ which was a stunning vocal performance by Max. Like all good bands the night was put to bed but the acts stuck around to meet and greet any fans that were willing to stick around. Posters and albums were signed and new fans were made.
It will be an interesting journey watching these acts develop and those in attendance might one day be able to say “I was there” when reminiscing about them in the future.
The King And All Of His Men
Where Are You Now?
Back To Back
Pieces Of You
Dancing With The Devil
Stay & Defend
Into The Fire
Lions In Cages