LIVE REVIEW: Nothing But Thieves @ Arts Club, Liverpool – 29th November 2015

It’s probably the windiest day of the year, but there’s a long line of people outside the East Village Arts Club. They’re all waiting to get away from the cold, but mainly to see Britain’s hottest new band, Nothing But Thieves. They’ve been unbelievably hyped this year, deservedly so, and so much so that this, the last night of their Ban All The Music Tour, is well and truly sold out.

Opening up are relative unknowns Witterquick [7] and it’s clear from the start why they have been chosen as support. Their pretty guitar melodies and soaring choruses of the likes of Soldiers and The Otherside hit the spot completely, as sung by frontman Will Alford. The quintet would fit right in with the current British rock scene and with a bit more polishing of both songs and dance moves (Alford just can’t let the air guitar go) it wouldn’t be too far fetched to see them join the big leagues soon.

Although Pretty Vicious [5] pick up the pace, they don’t have as many positives. They sound far less accessible than they do on record, with a frustrating fuzz engulfing the instruments and singer Brad Griffiths’ incoherence and screechiness a major turn off. It’s evident that the crowd thinks this too, as the heads that bob to the irresistibly promising riffs of Are You Ready For Me and It’s Always There stop before the songs are even thirty seconds in. There’s a moment of clarity in National Plastics towards the back end of the set, but work is definitely needed here.

Their debut album wasn’t even released this time two months ago, but Nothing But Thieves [9] arrive onstage to cheers reserved only for heroes. There’s an air of uncertainty around opener Excuse Me, though – surely singer Conor Mason’s voice can’t pull off that epic falsetto like he does on record? But he well and truly does, and it’s arguably better live. Mason has the crowd wrapped around his little finger for the entire night due to his effortless star quality, just the right amount of humility, and although there’s arguably a tad too much time dedicated to experimental vocalising in songs, that faultless voice. The quintet’s entire performance is completely stellar, though, notably in the whole band instrumental break in Drawing Pins. Each member (including Conor, who whips out an acoustic guitar) is visibly playing their heart out, and it’s honestly magical to see five people so obviously inspired by playing music.

And then there’s the crowd reaction. Although no one in the crowd knows every word to every song minds are lost everywhere, as if it’s the last gig they’ll ever attend. Nothing But Thieves are amazed by it all too, with Conor breathlessly thankful for the participation and guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown humbled by his deafening birthday round of applause and singalong. As for the songs, the beautiful encore opener If I Get High sounds even better with a crowd echo, while Graveyard Whistling, Wake Up Call and Trip Switch already sound like modern classics. Even choruses to the older Last Orders and deluxe songs Honey Whiskey and Hanging are more than familiar with the room, and it really shows how much of a fanbase the quintet have built up in just a few short years. By the time a euphoric Ban All The Music kicks in (which sparks all kinds of madness), the ‘hot property’ label is well and truly enforced. And if Nothing But Thieves’ album release wasn’t the start of something special, then this has to be, right?

Words by Georgia Jackson

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