Spotlight Kid – Nottingham Bodega Social Club, Friday October 14
They might have been together for five years, but Nottingham’s Spotlight Kid are currently being given the “hot new band” treatment. Thanks to the BBC Introducing initiative, they played at this year’s Glastonbury and were playlisted on daytime Radio One. Shortly after that, The Guardian tipped them as their “new band of the day”, under the mistaken impression that their new album (Disaster Tourist, released this month) was their debut effort.
Well, better late than never. And that’s to say nothing of drummer Chris Davis’s work with Six By Seven, or singer Katty Heath’s involvement with Bent – two locally based acts who achieved national recognition over a decade ago.
That said, the gathering sense of momentum which now surrounds the band, combined with the freshness and vigour of their approach, gives you the sense that you are indeed watching a brand new act, poised on the brink of breaking through to a wider audience.
Much has already been made of one of Spotlight Kid’s key influences: the so-called “shoegaze” sound of the early Nineties, spearheaded by bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Curve and Lush. It was a jokey term, popularised by writers who were amused at the contrast between the immersive, expansive, neo-psychedelic sound of these bands, and their shy, sulky disdain for the rituals of showmanship.
None of these bands would have willingly embraced the term at the time – and yet, twenty years on, there seems little point in pretending it doesn’t exist. And so, with admirable good cheer, Spotlight Kid don’t mind in the slightest if you call them shoegazers.
Led by a thick, triple-guitar squall of sound that resembles a swarm of bumble bees trapped in a wind tunnel, they certainly draw on those influences – but on stage, the diffidence of the old school is replaced by an unabashed joyousness and delight. Instead of staring at the floor, they look out at us and smile, spurred on by our response. Coupled with a knack for songcraft and an ability to carve out memorable tunes and hooks from the noise that surrounds them, this makes them an intensely appealing proposition.
Opening their new tour in front of a supportive home crowd was a smart move, which should have fuelled the band with all the self-belief they need for the remaining dates. “If the rest of the tour is even a quarter as good as tonight, we’ll be happy”, they said. It was the only moment of understatement, in a precisely honed and confidently delivered set that was little short of triumphant.