NME Awards Tour 2016 With Austin, Texas begins in Cardiff

Bloc Party headline on a bill that also includes Drenge, Rat Boy and Bugzy Malone

The NME Awards Tour 2016 With Austin, Texas kicked off in Cardiff last night (January 29) with varied and riotous sets from Bloc Party, Drenge, Rat Boy and Bugzy Malone.

Headliners Bloc Party delivered a set pitched neatly between old material and tracks from their new album ‘Hymns’, released the same day, and also threw in a snippet of Bjork’s ‘Big Time Sensuality’.

Hitting the state at Cardiff University Student’s Union with the dark country disco of ‘The Good News’, they quickly unleashed a flurry of crowd-pleasers in ‘Hunting For Witches’, ‘Positive Tension’ and 2008 single ‘Mercury’, with singer Kele Okereke declaring “let’s get this party started”. “This is a very special day,” he said of the album release as introduction to sparse new album tune ‘Virtue’, and the band continued to drop tracks from the record into the set.

After setting the venue alight with a segue from ‘Song For Clay (Disappear Here)’ – introduced with a stripped back segment of ‘Big Time Sensuality’ – into ‘Banquet’ and a rattle through 2009’s stand-alone single ‘One More Chance’, they then turned over the rest of the main set to their last two albums, slotting the kranky rock of ‘So He Begins To Lie’ between haunting new album tunes ‘Different Drugs’ and ‘Only He Can Heal Me’.

They closed their main set with the warped electro of recent single ‘The Love Within’ before returning to open the encore with the live debut of ‘My True Name’, Kele announcing “Cardiff, round two… we’re coming to the end of our performance, luckily we have a few more rockets in our pockets”. The set closed with a trio of hits in the form of ‘Helicopter’, ‘Flux’ and ‘Ratchet’, with Kele asking the crowd “do you like bangers here in Cardiff? Then you might be in luck”.

Bloc Party played:

The Good News
Hunting For Witches
Positive Tension
Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
One More Chance
Different Drugs
So He Begins To Lie
Only He Can Heal Me
The Love Within
My True Name

Earlier, Bugzy Malone stole the charmed Awards Tour first-on slot with a set of scorching grime. He opened with a couple of tracks detailing a petty crime-smattered youth – both ‘Elite Sessions’ and the appropriately-titled ‘Spitfire’ had him rapping ferociously about stealing cars and doing jail time. Later, his set turned more reflective, without dropping the breakneck pace, for ‘Fire In The Booth’ and ‘M.E.N’. “This is the sickest small crowd I’ve ever had in my life,” he told the early arrivals as 7.30pm skanking broke out, then got the crowing crowd to shout “0161 Manny on the map!”, a reference to his native Manchester, before blasting into a frenetic ‘Watch Your Mouth’.

Bugzy closed with the deeply troubled relationship lament ‘Bronson’, leaving Rat Boy to scuttle through his wreckage. Kicking into the electro rap ‘Move’, Jordan Cardy rose effortlessly above the Jamie T comparisons that have plagued him, turning to noir rock atmospherics to explore the horrors of Syria and austerity starvation on ‘Sportswear’, calypso rock and visceral doom noise on ‘Left 4 Dead’. Cardy further asserted his individuality with the brassy carnival pop of ‘Wasteman’ and the Munster surf rock of a new track called ‘Scum’ which, with its angry portraits of teenage car thieves, could well be about a young Bugzy Malone.

Sunny crowd favourite ‘Sign On’ and cheery mugging anthem ‘Fake ID’ rounded off Rat Boy’s set, after which Drenge ramped up the rock filth. Kicking into the psych grunge ‘Never Awake’ and a sultry ‘The Woods’, the Loveless brothers bantered casually with the crowd throughout. Rory dedicated wild rockabilly rampage ‘You Can Do What You Want’ to Caroline Street, “my favourite street in Cardiff” and then challenged Cardiff to clap along to his demon drumming on a seditious ‘Side By Side’. Their set gradually grew heavier as meaty Brit grunge riffs buried Running Wild’ and bluesy bombast ‘Backwaters’, a song blasted point blank by Jack White’s ‘Blunderbuss’.

“Who’s having a good time?” Rory asked the crowd, “who’s having a bad time? Who’s undecided?” They then launched into a closing section dominated by songs from their self-titled 2013 debut album, including a feral ‘I Want To Break You In Half’ and an itchy ‘Bloodsports’. “Are you sick of that heavy metal bullshit?” Eoin asked, promising to play “the softest jam in rock”. This turned out to be ‘Fuckabout’, which bled into a monumental grunge finale of ‘Let’s Pretend’.

The tour continues at the following venues:

Southampton, O2 Guildhall (January 30)
Bristol, O2 Academy (February 1)
Nottingham, Rock City (February 2)
Newcastle, O2 Academy (February 4)
Glasgow, Barrowland (February 5)
Manchester, Academy (February 6)
Leeds, O2 Academy (February 8)
Cambridge, Corn Exchange (February 9)
London, O2 Academy Brixton (February 11)
Birmingham, O2 Academy (February 12)

To check the availability of NME Awards Tour with Austin Texas tickets and get all the latest listings, head to NME.COM/tickets.