Review: NME Radar Tour, Nottingham

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wolf Gang headlined the NME Radar Tour
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wolf Gang headlined the NME Radar Tour

REPORTER Andrew Trendell went along to Rescue Rooms in Nottingham to see if the NME Radar Tour really offered ‘the next big thing’.

While the charts are dominated by copycat R n’ B clones and X Factor rejects, a lot of the best and most innovative music may not register on your radar.

And that’s exactly what this tour is all about - the UK’s most successful music rag taking you off the beaten track and off-roading into new but exciting territory.

Taste-makers the NME may be, but attendance at the Rescue Rooms tonight is somewhere between dismal and modest - but that doesn’t stop the acts giving it their all.

First up are Niki and The Dove. Not a million miles away from the vast sonic landscape of fellow Swede Lykke Li, Niki and co offer up a bewitching and theatrical onslaught of dreamy synth swells and dizzying electronic beats.

Her Kate Bush-esque vocal mastery and danceable rhythms prove a winning combination. With the right blend of imagination and pop sensibility, Niki and the Dove have a sound that soars, it’s just a shame there aren’t more people to hear it.

Next up, are the terrifying S.C.U.M.

S.C.U.M. are a band who shall be doubtlessly be plagued by comparisons to The Horrors - firstly for their gaunt and frightening appearance and stage presence, and secondly, well, for sounding remarkably like The Horrors.

With hypnotic drones backed by driving beats and haunting vocals, many of their tracks wouldn’t sound out of place on Primary Colours or Skying - but that’s not to say you should dismiss S.C.U.M. There’s an intensity and spirit to their performance that makes them interesting in their own right.

Sadly it doesn’t translate well tonight. Frontman Thomas Cohen stalked the stage with all the malice of a Birthday Party era Nick Cave as simultaneously dreamy and nightmarish dirges surrounded him, but it all fell victim to a wash of awful sound quality that bores much of the audience to tears. Shame.

Headlining is Baroque pop prince and dapper gentleman Wolf Gang.

His high twee vocals and physcadelic synths bring to mind the summery pop of MGMT - alarmingly so. But this is still pop music as it should be - drenched in melody and unashamedly infectious.

The well-groomed Max McElligott proves an excellent frontman - loaded with the right banter and charisma to pull off such dance-rock anthems with aplomb.

Occasionaly drifinting into the middle-of-the-road, Wolf Gang’s set on the whole is one of elaborate and eccentric glittery anthems, punctuated by moments of undeniable danceability.

Standout tracks Dancing With The Devil and Lions In Cages are moments of sheer majesty - and testament to Wolf Gang being a pop giant in the making.

This evening was everything we’ve come to expect from an NME tour - a blend of imperfections and true promise. Either way, here are some acts you need on your radar.

By Andrew Trendell