published: 16 /
Billy Seagrave enjoys the powerful, musical energetics of Nothing But Thieves at Manchester's Ritz.
Nothing But Thieves have been steadily building on the foundations that they have set down over the last twelve months. They have had a full headline UK tour with venues sold out everywhere, there have been dates across Europe and America, and they have backed this up by supporting Muse on their 'Drones' tour. In addition they have debuted their self-titled album, all of which has firmly put the band in the category of ones to watch.
Such is the draw of Nothing But Thieves that the venue is two thirds full when first support Blackfoxes take to the stage. The band seem to revel in the amount of support they have for a first slot. It is great also to see Nothing But Thieves singer Conor Mason standing at the side of the stage encouraging his own support acts. Next up is another act who are making great strides on the road to musical excellence, Sundra Karma. This is another band who play an excellent set and should make a great impression on the festival circuit this year.
Nothing But Thieves come to the stage and immediately launch into 'Itch'. There is a sense that they want to come on stage and make a statement. They hit this song hard and make it loud, maybe a little too much, as things seem a little distorted. Either way the crowd is enthusiastic.
'Painkiller' is up next. There still seems to be an issue with the sound but the band push on. The crowd have clearly come to enjoy their new heroes on the block. 'Hostage' finally sees the right levels of sound and power we have come to expect from Nothing But Thieves. There is an energy about this song, with its complex riffs and booming bass line, all of which are neatly structured around the vocal prowess of Conor Mason.
“This is crazy, Manchester.” Before launching into 'Hostage' Conor addresses the crowd at the sight of an ever increasing mosh pit, “You guys are mental, thanks for coming out tonight." They dive straight into 'Graveyard Whistling'. Conor is showing the vocal awareness and power of a performer who has been at the top of his game for years. It has a presence and potency that cannot be taught. It has to be there.
A brief interlude occurs whilst Conor addresses the crowd explaining their short journey from his fellow band mate and guitarist Dom Craik's garage in Southend-on-Sea, noting many influences from Beck and the Pixies, before introducing a cover of 'Where is My Mind', from the Pixies, which is warmly accepted by a very appreciative crowd.
'Drawing Pins' again shows the musical prowess of the band,. There is a complex symmetry to the layered guitar riffs, underpinned by a bass line so chunky it has your chest booming.
As the pace temporarily drops and Conor breaks into the opening lines of 'Tempt You' a more subtle seductive side o Nothing But Thieves emerges, which confirms the depth of musical mastery the band have in their locker. 'Wake up Call' brings the pace straight back up. It is a song perfectly crafted in all areas - an unmistakable bass line and guitars powerfully and perfectly in unison held together by a drum beat that drives this anthem throughout, while Conor is given licence to lay his vocals down in whatever direction he wants to.
The band leave the stage to the crowd still chanting the chorus. Their return for the encore of 'If I Get High', has the crowd surfers out in force.
'Trip Switch' is the penultimate track of the evening, once again a track that could fill any stadium, performed powerfully by a band surely with surely a great future ahead.
As the band huddle around the drum kit leaving Conor centre stage, 'Ban All the Music' heralds the last track of the night. The band build up the power as Conor drops to the pit and ventures into the crowd, before being returned to the stage by security. The band then stand at the front of the stage to acknowledge the twelfth man, tonight’s crowd.
Nothing But Thieves are a band on a mission - what they preach is that live music is for the soul. The band are accomplished and polished as a live unit and the future is looking bright. In Conor Mason they have a front man as good vocally as I have seen in a long while. His vocal range is so complete with a delivery to match, which makes him stand out. The synergy of energy and performance make Nothing But Thieves a true force to be reckoned with.
Photos by Billy Seagrave