The night kicked off with Bugzy Malone, a grime artist from Manchester. A bizarre choice for NME given that they usually pick indie/alternative acts for their main awards tour. I don’t believe many people were there for such an act but he opened their eyes to something very different. It was enlightening, if nothing else.
The standing area began to fill up with people excited to see RAT BOY, who was nominated for Best New Artist in the NME Awards. Anticipation and ear-piercing screams filled the room as Jordan and Noah, who we interviewed earlier in the day, took to the stage along with the rest of the band. Jordan started bouncing around and down to his fans right from the first beat causing the crowd to start moving almost instantly. Regularly being encouraged to make room ready for each drop, the centre of the room was turning into a pit... it wasn't even 8pm. Playing well known songs such as ‘FAKE ID’, ‘WASTEMAN’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’, the crowd were visibly baying for more. The highlight of the set was the story-telling song of ‘Sign On’, the biggest hit for the band, which was played giving the queue for people to go up on shoulders and crowd surf much to the annoyance of security. Not that the crowd cared as they were left ecstatic and feeling like they had just seen the next big thing in an intimate setting. If they keep this up, these boys are going places.
Next up were Drenge, a band clearly well known to many people that had filled the O2 Academy Bristol. The tone changed dramatically to a dark and grungy vibe but the energy in the room had definitely not disappeared. After opening with songs from their most recent album, ‘Undertow’, the band launched into the angsty, aggression-filled tracks from their debut self-titled album such as ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’ and ‘Backwaters’ that gained them such a large fan base originally. By the time they played one of their biggest tracks to date, ‘Bloodsports’, the floor had already turned into a swirling pit with limbs flying everywhere. I would give a better description but as I was in the middle of it, I didn’t have the best of views. A broken shoe and a thoroughly enjoyable 20 minutes later, I witnessed Drenge reduce the tempo with ‘Fuckabout’ before the marathon-like closer of ‘Let’s Pretend’ brought their set to a close leaving everyone thoroughly satisfied by the Castleton post-grunge rockers.
Finally, the band that many people had been waiting for, Bloc Party, took to the stage. Starting with songs from their new album ‘Hymns’, it became clear that many people in the crowd were expecting a mass of songs from previous albums and it was also clear that this was not going to happen. ‘Mercury’ and ‘Banquet’ showed that they had not abandoned their previous big hits and the crowd had brief spells of excitement at these but they were few and far between in this set. The more melodic and less fast-paced tracks of ‘Hymns’ struggled to fit in with the singles from ‘Silent Alarm’ and other previous albums leaving it feeling like two different bands were playing simultaneously. In the encore, the crowd erupted at the first note of ‘Helicopter’ and it nearly took the roof off of the place and the set closer ‘Ratchet’ finished off a strange set from the recently reunited band.
Overall, the gig was thoroughly enjoyable and I think most people left feeling they had got their money’s worth with so many quality acts in one night.
Gig Rating: 7/10.