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Gig review

The Rumble Strips / Pull Tiger Tail / The Little Ones / Blood Red Shoes

My original intention was to write this review in the style of the NME, part-homage, part-deconstruction of the single largest music publication in recent memory. In the end, though, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There are, after all, fates worse than death, and one of them is being forced to mention the Klaxons every other sentence, fawn over Beth Ditto and pretend that Noel Gallagher is some kind of genius. It just wasn’t worth it.

Luckily the NME New Music tour is noticeably more lively and interesting than its parent publication, and tonight’s bands show a vast amount of promise. Openers Blood Red Shoes already feel as if they’ve been around the block several times over as they scream and thrash their way through a brief but energetic set. The obvious highlight is single ‘You Bring Me Down’, but there’s hardly a dull moment from the moment they take to the stage to the point where they send their discarded instruments crashing to the ground.

Next up are LA’s The Little Ones, an altogether quieter prospect but no less exciting for it. Announcing themselves as tonight’s ‘peace pirates’ (pirates who are dedicated to peace, apparently) they power through an upbeat indie pop set, raising a few smiles even if they can’t quite manage the same with our pulses. New single ‘There’s A Pot Brewin’ features a suitably funky solo from the best drummer on show, but it’s still not quite enough to blow the Blood Red Shoes off the stage. Shame, but nice try.

Then it’s time for the most exciting name on tonight’s line-up, Stratford’s Pull Tiger Tail. From the moment they take to the stage it’s clear that they’re miles ahead of the rest, as their lightshow blasts everybody else into the wings. For a three-piece they also manage to muster a remarkably rounded-out sound, their music steeped in influences from The Beatles to Joy Division, stopping at The Smiths and Duran Duran along the way. When they close with hit single ‘Let’s Lightning’ the night has its soaring epiphany. Expect big things from them.

All of which makes The Rumble Strips something of an anticlimax, although on any other night their performance would have been a show-stopper. Looking and sounding like Gogol Bordello with the rough edges rounded off, they somehow blend ska brass with the Boomtown Rats’ ragged punk and gypsy wardrobe. It’s a worthy ending to an eye-opening evening, and while Pull Tiger Tail proved themselves to be a cut above the rest, everyone earns their place. Maybe the NME know more about music than they let on.