NME Radar Tour (The Joy Formidable, Chapel Club, Flats) – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Thursday September 30
Although smaller in scale than their annual ShockWaves packages, the NME’s Radar tours have helped to break a significant number of new acts to a wider public. In recent years, Friendly Fires, La Roux, Marina and the Diamonds and Hurts have all benefited from the exposure – but on the strength of last night’s triple line-up, it’s difficult to see who will be next in line.
One thing’s for sure: it won’t be Flats, who opened the night with a short set of uncompromising aggression that harked back to the second-wave British punk bands of thirty years ago. Quaintly, there was even a number (Rat Trap) which expressed their loathing of mods.
Outside the venue, a member of Chapel Club’s street team was cheerfully doling out so-called “download CDs”, in return for our e-mail addresses. These turned out to be designed for the express purpose of downloading and burning four exclusive remixes of the band’s new single. Or to put it another way: they were blank CDs. But they came with a nice cardboard sleeve, and the promise of receiving exciting marketing e-mails in perpetuity.
As for Chapel Club themselves, whose seven song set was respectfully if unenthusiastically received, perhaps their chances of wider acclaim rest on whether the world is yet ready for the next White Lies. (Remember them? They were the next Editors. Who, of course, were the next Interpol.) Competent to a fault, their familiar sonic template was beefed up with generous dollops of echo and effects pedals, lending it an agreeably expansive air.
Things stepped up a good few notches for headliners The Joy Formidable, who were clearly the band that most of the audience had come to see. The Welsh trio radiated good-natured bonhomie from the outset – particularly singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan, whose smile sparkled from beneath a razor-sharp platinum bob. The reference points here were late Eighties bands such as The Primitives, The Darling Buds and Transvision Vamp.
Although they tended to err somewhat on the polite side, the band pulled out all the stops for the set-closing Whirring, which morphed into a lengthy and increasingly chaotic instrumental coda. It provided a rousing end to a night which, although billed as a showcase for forward-thinking breakthrough acts, turned out to have more than a whiff of the retrograde about it.