“This is insane! This time last year we were playing Barfly to 150 people!” declared Conor Mason, lead singer of this five piece band from Southend-On-Sea. I can’t claim to be one of the faithful one hundred and fifty but I was lucky enough to catch these guys at the Barn On The Farm festival in Gloucestershire earlier this year and then and last Friday they managed to own the stage in a way that belies the three years they have been together,
The lively and very mixed crowd at The Electric on Camden High Street were transfixed from the moment the band launched into ‘Excuse Me’ with Conor showcasing an impressive vocal range that for the next hour would reach Matt Bellamy-esque falsettos on ‘Hanging’ as well as shining in the more acoustic, heartfelt ‘Lover, Please Stay’. In fact, the similarity to Muse on tracks like ‘Hanging’ has been used as a criticism but for me, Nothing But Thieves have a confident and assured pop rock style that simply nods at influences rather than imitates them. For a band of such early years, their stage craft was to be applauded and, as I left, one happy fan turned to his partner and wondered aloud: “How long before they headline Glastonbury ?”
When I saw them in the Summer, they seemed very happy on a festival stage and they were equally adept at making the dark pre-Halloween atmosphere of The Electric feel like home with a ten song set that climaxed with the excellent ‘Wake Up Call’ leaving everyone stomping their feet and yelling for more. It really was a very well balanced song delivered brilliantly.
As the crowd launched into a chant of “NBT, NBT, NBT”, they marched back on stage and sang ‘Lover, Please Stay’, a high point on their top ten debut eponymous album and a great way to begin a three song encore! Bands seem to have reached a high when they are known by their initials and Nothing But Thieves have wasted no time getting there.
Finishing with ‘Hanging’ and ‘Ban All The Music’ they completed the last of their thirteen songs, maybe a nod to Halloween but definitely not a sign of any ill-boding. On this form, NBT will be around for some years to come and I can’t wait to see them again soon!