Microphone circus tricks, big pop choruses and a surprise Arctic Monkey – don’t say we never give you anything. Astoria, London (February 7)
So we’re but two days in to the Shockwaves NME Awards Shows and nights are already blending into days, it feels like we’ve spent our whole lives queuing at the Astoria’s Keith Moon Bar and suddenly we know the menu at the Dionysus kebab house on the corner of Charing Cross Road by heart (try the grilled halloumi – it’s delicious). Tonight Wirral trio The Rascals step up, and their muscular freakbeat is most welcome for being totally at odds with everything else in the country at the moment. Miles Kane’s tremolo guitar adds a neat psychedelic surf edge to their music, but the real highlight comes during the final song when they’re joined onstage by Alex Turner to play guitar and sing on ‘Is It Too Late?’. The rapidly-filling room welcomes the Monkey the way churchgoers hail a crying statue of the Virgin Mary; adulation doesn’t cover it.
Then Black Kids. Their chirpy disco-pop could be cloying in large doses, but tonight ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ and ‘Hurricane Jane’ are greeted like the soon-to-be classics they are. If John Hughes ever remakes Pretty In Pink they’re perfect for the soundtrack.
It’s clear the audience are only here for one group, however. Many may deride The Pigeon Detectives as the ultimate ‘my mate in a band’ band and certainly this evening, the crowd is indistinguishable from the five men onstage. But what the Pigeons lack in glamour they more than make up for in choruses: ‘I’m Not Sorry’, ‘Take Her Back’ and ‘I Found Out’ are all monsters. While some of their peers struggle to make the leap to playing Proper Big Shows, Matt Bowman and co graduate with ease, delivering their rabble-rousing chart indie with an impressive assurance. It’s not flawless – at one point Bowman swings his mic lead out so far that it zooms offstage and hits a hapless roadie – but as harmless fun goes, this takes some beating.