Southend’s finest marked the beginning of their sophomore album’s tour in Newcastle last Sunday. Broken Machine was released back in September to accolades for the ways they both tackle complex subject matter and make strides toward their genre’s bar setters such as Radiohead and Muse.
The five piece strut out onto the stage adorned with a setup fit for a band of far higher stature. ‘I’m Not Made By Design’ is the opener and it sets the mood for the night, both for the band and the audience. The band are hitting hard on every note, seemingly unphased by the scenes unfolding in front of them where bodies move almost in a Mexican wave from front to back. With ‘I’m Not Made By Design’ as the opener and ‘Amsterdam’ as the closer Nothing But Thieves make it clear the direction they’re headed in.
There’s a versatility that sets Nothing But Thieves apart from other bands, both in Conor Mason’s signature falsetto and in the whole band’s attitude toward their music. There’s an urgency to Mason’s voice, a call to action that refuses to be ignored. It’s clear that songs like ‘Live Like Animals’ and ‘Reset Me’ have the most stirring effect on the audience with their baited lyrics.
Amongst the bustle of Broken Machine it would be easy to forget about some of the simple poignancy that was first associated with early Nothing But Thieves singles such as ‘If I Get High’ which is revisited here. A personal favourite was ‘Graveyard Whistling’ which garnered a few smiles from the band, finally cracking from their hardened exterior to take in the sight in front of them. Friends stood arm in arm, every lyric was belted out and there was even the odd lighter in the air.
Ending strong Nothing But Thieves came out to play ‘Particles’ and ‘Amsterdam’ for the encore, opting away from any songs from their self-titled debut. Perhaps the choice is telling of the way Nothing But Thieves see their own future but for now it’s an all out celebration of the heights their music has achieved. Whilst there’s a distinct sonic change between the two albums, the way crowds react to them is no different from song to song.
It’s clear that Nothing But Thieves trajectory is set high but at times it’s hard to see where they’re headed. Their music seems to reached a peak, addressing a range of matters and experimenting as far as the band seem comfortable with so where the next album could take them is a mystery to us all.