NME Awards Tour 2014 with Austin, Texas, Leadmill, Sheffield

Leadmill, Sheffield, February 19

It’s the first night of the NME Awards Tour with Austin, Texas and Chilli Jesson is hungover. “I feel rough!” Palma Violets’ bassist tells NME ahead of his band’s headline set. After a heavy night at the previous evening’s NME Awards ceremony, his bandmates are feeling ropey too, but The Leadmill is crammed full of Palmas devotees expecting new tunes and the usual pandemonium from the south London quartet. This could get messy, and not in a good way…

First up though, are Kent punks Slaves, filling the coveted NME Awards Tour opening slot previously occupied by Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines, and Florence and the Machine. They look set to match up to their forebears too, as drumming frontman Isaac Holman and guitarist Laurie Vincent charge through ‘The Hunter’ and other deafening cuts from their forthcoming debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’, with Holman pounding his kit like he’s trying to destroy it.

Fat White Family’s warped rock ‘n’ roll carnival follows. Topless frontman Lias Saoudi spends the majority of their set pulsing and howling like a banshee having a seizure. ‘Auto Neutron’ and ‘I Am Mark E Smith’ are the shout-along highlights of a grimy performance that comes to an abrupt end after a spectacular ‘Touch The Leather’ sends the crowd surging for the barrier.

When Palma Violets arrive, their heads appear to have cleared. During opener ‘Rattlesnake Highway’, Jesson pogos on the spot and guitarist Sam Fryer paces frantically around him, hammering his instrument as he goes. The unheard material, from second album ‘Danger In The Club’, expands the scope of their sound, from the helter-skeltering organ of ‘Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better On The Beach’, through ‘Matador’’s sharp shifts between quiet and loud, to ‘English Tongue’’s bluesy knees-up.

Most of the crowd have already memorised the words to new single ‘Danger In The Club’ – released online earlier this week – and bellow along to its rickety chorus. ‘Best Of Friends’, the blast of beery punk that started it all in 2013, has the whole dancefloor slipping on spilt beer, and frantic circle pits break out for ‘Scandal’ and ‘Chicken Dippers’ during the encore, during which the band’s merch guy Harry Violent careens across the stage. Don’t expect Palma Violets to shake that hangover any time soon – this tour looks sure to be a rowdy riot.

Robert Cooke