Live at O2 Academy Leeds on Sunday, 8th February 2009
It's no doubt the NME Awards Tour presents some pretty big shoes to fill. With former headliners such as The Killers and Arctic Monkeys now dusting their platinum disc collection and the ever present danger of finding yourself engaged to a leotard-clad, Brazilian lass, it's a wonder any bands rise to the challenge. Luckily for us NME have coerced a line-up consisting of some of the most sumptuous new British bands to take their wares on tour again in one big collaborative adventure. This new gaggle of rising stars has come prepared: clutching a plethora of awards ranging from White Lies #1 debut album to Florence & The Machine's BRITs Critic's Choice selection. Surely this tour is can only be a litmus test for the valiant new face of 2009 British music.
Openers for the evening come in the form of the celestial Florence & The Machine who take-off into 'Hospital Beds' in theatrical fashion brandishing flowers and glitter and the astonishingly outsized tones one would never expect from such a willowy front woman. Recognisable favourites such as 'Kiss With A Fist' and Dog Days' are eagerly lapped up by an ever swelling audience. However the real indulgence is the newer additions such as 'Howl' and 'Cosmic Love' which turns into a instrumental kaleidoscope with an apparent free-for-all on whatever cymbal one can clash or drum they can beat.
Following this colourful display are the black hues of the White Lies. Graciously thanking all those that helped make they're album number one, they set out to repay the British public. Though branded as doom merchants, there is vitality in the air as they pump out 'To Lose My Life' to an admiring crowd, singing every amplified word back to them. 'Unfinished Business' sees them joined by Florence Welch, cementing the feel of comradery and support that encompasses the tour. The loving feeling carries on, even as they finish the set with 'Death', to nothing less than rapturous applause. They're place at number one has definitely been warranted!
Back to another unabashed and vibrant set as Friendly Fires storm the stage with their unique and addictive brand of Balearic-feel dance for the indie generation. Competing with fans eager to hear the urban lullabies of Glasvegas can't have been an easy task, but lead singer Ed comes out swinging with dance moves that even a loose-footed Kevin Bacon would blush at! Their plethora of high spirited tunes include new single 'Skeleton Boy', inspiring the crowd; "Give me your hand / Let's face this night and see it through". Favourites such as 'Jump In The Pool' and 'Paris' are greeting by outbreaks of mass dance fever and, despite the tragic exclusion of 'Photobooth', the band end with an intense and frantically perfect 'Ex-Lover' which may have melted a few of the cooler Glasvegians in the crowd.
The headliners take to the stage with a surge of crowd enthusiasm. Having been waiting with breath that is baited, the crowd rejoice in the site of lead singer James Allan toting his iconic Ray-Bans. Reflecting their sentiment the band launches into 'Geraldine' with Allen musing: "I see you need me / I know you do" before lunging into older favourite 'It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry' In the emotional turbulence of the set, new single 'Flowers & Football Tops' stands head and shoulders above the rest and brings the crowd to a unified stand-still to the borrowed, echoing sounds of "You Are My Sunshine". 'Go Square Go' leaves on an affirmative and electrifying note before the band returns for an encore of 'Daddy's gone.' As the song trails to an end the air is vibrant and charged. A fitting end for a tour so perfectly composed to represent the forefront of new British music!