Boasting one of the best cards it has seen in years, the 2013 NME Awards show hit Birmingham’s O2 Academy on Saturday night and delivered hints about what is to come for all four acts on the list.

Opening the show were B-Town natives Peace, and they set a standard that nobody else could match on the night. From the sprawling ‘Lovesick’, frontman Harrison Koisser’s effortlessly cool persona oozed from the stage in a wave of reverb guitars, psychedelic imagery and jangly Foalsian rock. You’d be forgiven for thinking the crowd were here to see somebody huge, but they weren’t. Peace have released a handful of songs (the fantastic four-song EP Delicious along with a couple of singles) yet they commanded the crowd as if they had released ten number ones.

The set was raucous and loud, with ‘Bloodshake’ offering the chance for Koisser to tell his adoring public that they “vibe so hard”. ‘California Daze’ was suitably huge and suggested that the comparisons to ‘A Certain Romance’ aren’t that far off. The song of the set was easily their latest single ‘Wraith’, with huge changes in tempo and Koisser struggling to make himself heard as he yelled “blow me like a floating feather”. Blowjob references aside, the band stole the night early on and it was most definitely a triumphant homecoming for a band who are easily the brightest new act in Britain.

The latest disciples of Albion-ism, Palma Violets, showed that they have potential to reach the heights that have been unfairly set by the press. The Pete’n’Carl-esque fusion of bassist Chilli Jesson and vocalist Sam Fryer was pleasing to see. We’ll have to wait until the release of their debut album 180 before casting judgement, but ‘Best of Friends’ was massive and sparked beers in the air and bodies over heads. ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ was just as tight as it is on record, and ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ proved that the Lambeth four-piece have a delicate side as well as their anthemic exterior. The highlight was ‘Tom The Drum’ with Fryer’s lyrics of “I don’t wanna come and play on your rollerblades today” sounding passionate rather than puerile.

People with sideburns and parkas meandered up to the front for the suitably dapper Miles Kane. It was a set which was familiar to those who have seen him before, the stomping ‘Give Up’ opening proceedings closely followed by the infectious ‘Kingcrawler’ and ‘First of My Kind’. His latest songs sounded strong, too. ‘You’re Gunna Get It’ (co-wrote with Paul Weller) was wild and feral, with ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ equally promising. Kane worked hardest on-stage out of all the acts and it paid dividends towards the end when Kane beckoned to more noise from the crowd with his arms spread like a Gallagher-ish messiah. The loudest cheers of the set were for old stalwarts ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Come Closer’, with Kane modestly thanking the audience for “making his dreams come true”. In truth, Kane’s second record sounds more promising than his debut and he will continue to grow before undoubtedly heading back to record a second Last Shadow Puppets album.

Django Django are the most innovative band on the bill, but by the time they are on-stage (three hours later than when Peace entered) you get a sense that the audience is tiring. ‘Hail Bop’ is brilliantly infectious and it’s surreal seeing frontman Dave Maclean hitting a glockenspiel half an hour after Miles Kane fans were drowning each other in Carlsberg. ‘Waveforms’ is exceptional, too, with a true musicianship between the four members (who are all wearing matching shirts) before the band depart.

The only negative of the night is that the card seems a bit stagnant. With hip-hop breaking new ground through the likes of Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, the sight of all-male all-white acts on the card gives you a sense that indie probably isn’t pulling its weight. Take nothing away from the bands, though. Peace are looking odds-on favourite as having the British debut album of the year, whilst scores of hipsters outside admitted to only coming to “see the legendary Palma Violets”. Who said guitar music was dead?

Discover Peace: Official // Facebook // Twitter
Discover Palma Violets: Official // Facebook // Last.fm
Discover Miles Kane: Official // Facebook // Myspace // Twitter
Discover Django Django: Official // Facebook // Twitter

James Daniel Rodger
Dance Yrself Clean

Music Blogs