My love affair with Nothing But Thieves started last year with the release of their self-titled debut album. An album which, like auditory crack has made this my absolute go-to album of the last 12 months. My gift of choice to my more discerning musical friends. My soundtrack to every mood and moment. If each track is the lure, then Conor Mason’s voice is that sexy hidden tattoo, that wink from an anonymous stranger that will leave you completely hooked.
Tonight’s gig is the rendezvous. The closure at the end of a beautiful year-long flirtation which will culminate in fireworks, the popping of champagne corks and possibly a Meme of train going through a tunnel.
Walking on stage with all the trepidation of a group of lads in the sixth form about to perform in front of their parents, it’s apparent from the off that their success is still quite overwhelming. After stepping off a tour with Muse you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d be rolling up with all the cocky swagger of the next big thing. But Gallaghers they are not. It’s endearing.
They kick off with Itch. An absolute belter and all round crowd pleaser. They rattle through every song on the album, including the additional album bonus tracks Honey Whiskey, Hanging, Neon Brother and Six Billion. New track Desire has received high praise even before tonight and has suitably wet the appetite for new material next year. But nothing quite sets them apart from other current bands quite like when they step it down a notch. Only then do you get to witness Mason’s absolutely staggering vocal talent. Graveyard Whistling and If I Get High are spine tinglingly wonderful. Beautiful. Majestic. The sheer power and range when they break into Excuse Me prompts a sea of faces with furrowed brows trying to process the almost Theremin-esque sound that comes out of this man’s mouth. It is just astonishing. It’s akin to the Milky Bar Kid belting out Nessun Dorma. Visually it just doesn’t fit but my god does this man know how to stun a crowd silent.
The evening culminates with an encore of Trip Switch, Lover, Please Stay and Ban All The Music. A perfectly searing climax to what has been an absolutely wonderful 12 months of lustful listening. I wish everyone in the band every success for the future, it’s so deserved. Here’s to the next 12 months…