Review by P.A. Keightley
Three very different bands! - from upbeat dance music, charged rock to stylised 80s rock.
First on stage was the very likable Darwin Deez from New York, whose music was in the Conor Obrest style. He and his dancers were a lot of fun and literally bounced onto stage. They performed several slick dance routines, and very fit they were too!
Darwin smiled his way through his set, making lots of eye contact with the audience and at the end of the performance remarked: 'oh you like us!'. The band were characerised by their energy and humour and there was ample opportunity to get some fun shots. After the gig the band mixed and chatted with the audience, further endearing them to their fans.
Clearly a man with a huge capacity for enjoying himself, I also spotted Darwin dancing at the front with his very long arms waving loosely during 'Everything Everything's' set!
'Everything Everything' - a rock band in red lights, were next up. There was a positive energy from this fresh rock band and their lead singer has a strong voice with the elastic range and punch of a younger Tom Yorke. They had a good crowd of supporters there who clearly enjoyed their set. I was handed their set list so here it is: Intro, Suffragette, Schoolin, Qwerty, Engine Room, Tin, Photoshop, MY KZ, Weights.
We then waited patiently as the stage was set up for the last act another Manchester band called Hurts. A duo with Theo, the lead singer, and Adamon keyboards. Their set had a white backdrop with lights facing the audience, in stark contrast to the red lighting for 'Everything Everything'. Hurts were named in a BBC poll of one to watch in 2010. I met Adam earlier when he came out to the bar area, looking very smart in his red waistcoat. We had a little chat and I said how much I liked their songs, which I'd heard on YouTube and he informed me that he had played before at King Tuts.
Theo has depth and an edge in his voice that grips your attention with 'striking moody charisma'. He used gestures and his eyes to communicate with us, as if looking to the far horizon for those answers. He has Hollywood actor good looks, while his style is measured and understated with a 'slow-burn sexiness'. He holds the mic firmly and he is pensive and still as lights hover above him. With his charisma, looks and good voice he makes an excellent front man.
The duo started their set with the drama of 'Silver lining' - followed by 'Happiness', 'Wonderful Life', 'Blood Tears', 'Gold', 'Stay', 'Sunday', 'Illuminated' and 'Better Than Love'. Their dark moodiness is in contrast to their positive songs. They ended with the hopes of 'Illuminated' which is a wonderful uplifting song, and with new single 'Better Than Love' - Theo even smiled a little by then!
The set felt like the drama of one of those silent movies where everything is in the gesture rather than what is said. The lighting varied greatly during their set from moody blues to reds - which made taking photos a challenge! I loved the retro feel of it with the stark black and white imagery like their 'Wonderful Life' video. The 80s style is reminiscent of Gary Numan or Depech Mode perhaps but for me Roxy Music is cooler. Numan looked sideways with his large eyes. Theo is not Newman but he does have his own very distinctive persona - and he looked the dapper dude which all gels well with the band's sound. His eyes certainly have it - and Hurts performed songs with Big choruses! They release their second single Better Than Love May 2010.
While doing an NME tour must be fun - there must also be pressures on these young artists. I heard that Darwin Deez arrived in a white van about 4 p.m. while a large tour bus sat outside.