Live Review: NME Shockwaves Tour Featuring Crystal Castles, Magnetic Man, Everything Everything and the Vaccines at Norwich UEA – 11th February 2011

By on Monday, 21st February 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Words by Natalie Stas

This year’s NME tour showed a refreshing move away from the guitar anthems of last years purist indie-rock, leaving avid gig-goers not knowing what to expect from the seemingly miss-matched line up. The all-encompassing mix began with surf pop from the Vaccines, followed by the energetic buzzing beats of Everything Everything, who effortlessly built the crowd for heavyweight electronic giants Magnetic Man and euphoric headliners Crystal Castles (pictured above).

Show opener the Vaccines entered the stage with subdued presence and blasted through an indeterminate set of bothersome tracks, with no particular highlights other than the slight feel-good-factor of upcoming album track ‘Blow it Up’. With a beige attitude to performance, muted dynamics and a string of endless rambling lyrics, it was clear why their sound has previously been described as ‘gap year music’. It almost seemed ironic that the Vaccines were representing new music of 2011.

The crowd waited eagerly for the upbeat indie funk of Manchester’s latest talent Everything Everything to lift spirits and ignite belief in all things NME. Fully clad in matching boiler suits, the band grabbed attention immediately with their sharp appearance, and had the harmonies to match. The crowd finally started singing along to endearing whistling of ‘Schoolin’ and danced to the popular ‘Photoshop Handsome’. But perhaps influenced by their nonsensical choice of costume, the band seemed to plough through the set in a blue-collar fashion – steady with no particular highlights, but predictably entertaining throughout.

Dubstep trio Magnetic Man were next to perform, and having spent most of last year basking in critical acclaim, the crowd were fully in expectation of something spectacular. And truly spectacular it was. Blasting straight into their set with the infamous ‘MAD’, the crowd combusted to dubstep at its most infectious. This tune will no doubt be the soundtrack to many a festival this summer. Benga, Skream, Artwork and MC Sgt. Pokes are known to produce dubstep at every end of the spectrum, and it was hard to anticipate where they would take the set after this. But the electric excitement of chart favourites ‘I Need Air’ drilled a tangible aggression into the crowd as mosh pits become frantic with the rapture. As Skream’s surreal experimental electronica took hold with the pneumatic sounds of ‘Anthemic’ and enchanting strings of ‘Flying in Tokyo’, it all seemed to make perfect sense.

The crowd clawed their air as new-retro duo Crystal Castles entered the stage. Alice Glass (despite being on crutches) adopted her awkwardly stylish posture whilst Kath remained the hooded figure in the shadows – both moods blurring into strobe-lit, perfectly crafted electronica. Glass, full of her trademark guttural rage, barked her way though through crowd favourite ‘Crimewave’ and onto a similarly elated ‘Baptism’ but peaked as the electro-clash of fizzing synths and live drum beats radiated through the hypnotic ‘Empathy’. Their fusion of euphoria and ferocity made for compelling viewing, thankfully offering everyone the raw, frenzied ending to the night they had hoped for.

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