Not a lot needs to be said about Bugzy Malone, his Manchester grime aesthetic has been hailed nationally for the past year and live, he arouses what is an intentionally provocative atmosphere that sends grime fanatics into madness. Fans continuously chant back his lyrics, jiving and moshing to what has now become so recognisable as the sound of the North/South London underground scene, with the likes of Wiley, Skepta and Stormzy creating global recognition for the genre.
The Corn Exchange seems like an unlikely venue for Malone but from the start he creates what looks like a cathedral into a sweaty, underground club- dark and dingy, but with a friendly and tribal atmosphere. A few days ago Bugzy released his new single entitled ‘Mosh Pit Gang’ and the crowd welcomed it gratefully into the setlist, dancing in time to the typically grime orchestral rhythms and heavy beats. Throughout the performance, the energy of Bugzy Malone was quite frankly incredible and it showed that the Grime revival is here to stay and be welcomed into modern British music. Tracks in the calibre of ‘Wasteman’ went down particularly well and, unfortunately for Chip, many of the war dubz aimed at him were well received and chanted back to the front man.
It seems as if every critic is saying that this year will be RAT BOY’s rise to prominence and with increasingly obnoxious and catchy tunes it is hard to disagree with them. Teenage fans amble towards the stage but it is not long before they’re chanting Cardy’s name, urging the indie teen idol on stage with the rest of his band. When watching Jordan and his mates, Liam on bass, Harry on Lead Guitar and midi pads and Noah on drums, it is hard to believe that they haven’t even been performing live for a year. Their performance is tight with timing issues nowhere to be seen.
Cardy comes on to the stage with a roar from the crowd, all bursting to dance to the first track, which ironically is his new single, ‘Move’- a tune bursting with catchy lyrics and a ‘Beastie Boys-esque’ backing track. RAT BOY also showcases a couple of new songs, one called ‘Knock Knock’, that features on his neighbourhood watch mixtape, and another, ‘Scum’ which will be the title track from his debut album (yet to have a release date). The crowd erupt when experiencing his two lead singles live, with ‘Sign On’ being a crowd favourite and one of the best indie/punk songs of 2015. ‘Sign On’ airs a Blur and Jamie T fusion but stays well and truly under Cardy’s hiphop groove that has become so apparent in his music. He conveys this brilliantly in his live show and proves to be a great front man, often interacting with the audience and signing pieces of merch, including my Drenge tee-shirt… which he politely crossed out to replace with “RAT BOY” and one of his trademark drawings. The rise of RAT BOY is somewhat of an inevitability and if he carries on producing spectacles like this one, he is sure to have one of the hottest debut albums of the year.
Drenge have to be, without trying to sound like a 99p Zane Lowe, one of the most enthralling and vicerol live acts I have ever witnessed. The scuzzy, pounding electric guitar and bass compliment the thrashing drums from Rory Loveless who looks, from a distance, like a young Dave Grohl. They start their set off with ‘Never Awake’; a song expressing an emotional struggle but still the audience chant the lyrics back whilst angrily moshing away to the grungy belter. They mix their set perfectly, switching between their self titled debut and ‘Undertow’, which received 9/10 from NME. ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’ was a personal highlight as, although the track barely makes two minutes, it whipped their fans into a frenzy, with the guitar riff being a big kick in the teeth to many other so called “British Rock Bands” out there at the moment.
For 40 minutes the crowd are thoroughly entertained in a sweaty spectacle produced by the best live band currently in Britain. The circle pits expand as the set goes on with more enthusiasts joining the mix and finishing with one of the most perfect finales I have ever seen. Eoin, Rory and Rob, also from the band Wet Nuns, end with ‘Lets Pretend’, which seems to be their favourite to end with. Watching ‘Fuckabout’ was an experience in itself with the fans halting momentarily as if they were possessed: chanting the lyrics back at the band. If you have the chance to see Drenge this year then it is an opportunity that really can’t be missed and they truly deserve to be one of the best bands in Britain at this point in time.
With a turn of musical direction in their new album, as well as a new looking line up, it was interesting to see how Bloc Party’s live set would change and how the crowd would react. As ever, Kele Okereke and Co produce a performance that is compelling and shows they still possess the energy they had in 2003. ‘Hymns’ came out a week ago and many of the songs on the album seem to have adapted well to the setlist, with new single ‘The Love Within’ creating a surprisingly wrathful mosh pit; despite its more dancy nature.
It is easy to forget how many hits Bloc Party have, the set predominantly features classics from their first three albums but songs like ‘Octopus’ from ‘Four’ summon the audience to go insane, bouncing up and down in time to the instantly recognisable vocals of Kele. Middle Aged men and Teens united to celebrate one of the most innovative British bands of the 21st Century. A great array of historic merch was on display too, with adults digging out their tight and old ‘Silent Alarm’ and ‘Intimacy’ tee shirts. This is the type of atmosphere any band would relish and luckily for Bloc Party they had energy in abundance to feed off and transfer into their live performance.
Normally encores consist of a couple of songs, a mediocre track that only a couple of people like and the band’s most famous song. However this was not the case for Bloc Party as they finished with 4 songs, including three of their most acclaimed tracks: these of course being ‘Flux’,’ Helicopter’ and ‘Ratchet’. To end on such a high was a treat for a thoroughly entertained audience and it was almost as if everyone wanted an encore of an encore and why wouldn’t they? They had just seen one of the best British indie rock bands of our generation.
The NME Awards Tour was a massive success, uniting people of all ages in the same venue and it was nice to see Cambridge being put on the map, as a city of music enthusiasts. I just can’t believe that the gig wasn’t sold out as a line up like this shouldn’t be missed.