Live review: Nothing But Thieves @ O2 Academy

By Kerry Alderson

Nothing but Thieves’ UK tour opened with a bang in Newcastle earlier this month: we arrived at the venue just in time for the doors opening at 7:30pm, and found the queue of excited fans was already curling round the street. The atmosphere was electric, and we were very excited, as the tour promised not to disappoint with nearly all of the dates sold out entirely.

The first support band –  Canadian alternative rock group July Talk – were captivating. The two lead vocalists filled the room with an unusual energy, which I found hard to place: they were heavy yet melodic, preparing the fans nicely for what was to come later on in the night.

Darlia, the second act, were certainly much louder than the first: the trio were energetic, and their songs were heavily guitar-based. The audience clearly loved them, which was evident from members of the crowd moshing before the headline act had even arrived! The two support acts were really rather different to each other, but nevertheless they were both great choices to first draw the crowd in, filling them with the energy and excitement necessary for a successful gig.

However, to some extent, it could be said that this slightly backfired. The wait between the final support act and headliners Nothing But Thieves was only 40 minutes – certainly not the longest I’ve had to wait for a headline act – but nevertheless, the crowd did become rather twitchy and restless. Luckily, when the band finally came on stage, this atmosphere melted away. The band started strong, opening with ‘I’m Not Made By Design’ – my personal favourite from their newest album, Broken Machine. Musically, the band were – for want of a better word – faultless. Lead vocalist and guitarist Conor Mason’s vocals were, as they always are, incredible.

The band combined heavy, distinct guitar riffs with an intense lyrical vulnerability and when live, this became emotionally charged and thoroughly enjoyable.

The amount of love in the room for the band was incredible, and this was reflected in their performance. During ‘Drawing Pins’ –  one of the bands more popular tracks from their first, self-titled album – fans were singing the words before Conor even had the chance, and the slight smile he gave in response was heartfelt. Their feelings of how overwhelmed they are by the support of the fans were also evident during their performance of ‘Hell Yeah’, as Conor gave a slight laugh in response to the deafening clap the room gave, as he stood alone to perform the song with just his guitar for backup. The audience was diverse, the age range varying considerably, and every single person in the room allowed themselves to be drawn in by Nothing But Thieves’ emotional, energetic, and exciting performance.

However, there was perhaps one thing about the performance which was a slight let-down. The headache I left with wasn’t due simply to the high noise levels a concert invariably produces: it was primarily down to the lighting. The use of flashing lights and effects were, at points, excessive. The main problem here was that it meant actually physically seeing the band was on occasion rather difficult, and it ruined many a photo opportunity. Nevertheless, the slightly obscured vision didn’t take away from the incredible audio and admiration of the fans.

All in all, the gig was fantastic. We were left singing their notably catchy tunes, and filled with a sense of excitement (and that pesky headache). There was a distinct feeling that the future for the band could be particularly bright.

Photograph: Chloe Chaplin via Flickr

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