NOTHING BUT THIEVES
@ Corner Hotel, Richmond (VIC)
The following is a love letter.
Stellar. Just stellar.
Because seeing Nothing But Thieves live is better than downloading their songs. It is a visceral experience. You will have an epiphany and it will leave you as soon as the show stops.
Holy shit because this band has something very innovative to offer: Neo-noir rock.
This band didn’t get much sleep, doubled with their jet lag, the crowd owes this band praise for stepping up to treat us to a lovely show. They only had a couple minutes of sleep on the couch out the back, according to Conor Mason, the lead vocalist and guitarist.
The band had just flown into Melbourne from Brisbane. According to Conor Mason, the lead vocalist and guitarist, they’ve only had five minutes of some sort of rest on a couch out the back of the Corner Hotel.
The weather inside was dark. Outlines of people shine under the glossy silver hints of light. The bartenders remain timidly at the back, and frustrated looks frayed me as I pushed to the front. I think everyone was annoyed about the photographers because our big heads obscured their view.
Outside the air was muggy, like an unwashed doona cover. So inside people are herding themselves near the walls where air conditioners hang above high.
Someone pushes me so hard that a swath of spiced rum and coke flies out of my glass. I downed the drink and put it on the floor. I get anxious in crowds, probably like a couple of you readers. I tapped my lips in thought about a one-off cigarette, my other hand jittery with the camera. I was getting impatient.
“What a drag,”
I scrambled onto the photographers’ rig in front of the audience, and as if I stepped on a magical pad, the entire room fell into complete blackness. I couldn’t see anything, until a soft pathetic glow emitted from the roof, bouncing off the stage.
We knew what was coming. Young couples clambered on top of each other and began screaming competitions. A couple people climbed up rails attached to the walls and hung from the side. It felt like a pit.
An electronic rumbling came from far back of the stage, from the belly of a darkness my eyes couldn’t penetrate. If we were in a bigger venue, some of us would have thought King Kong with a bloody temper was just around the corner.
Clinical and asylum-like beam lights began darting around the room and the ocean of empty air above us.
I looked behind me and the lights made everyone look pale, so pale that they had undergone some Neanderthal descent into anguish. Behind me, I feel the forearms of others tense on my neck.
I could feel it. Oh my god, the tension.
I cough out of surprise of the vibrations, horrify-until-you-curl-up-vibrations. Suddenly, the rumbling dropped off.
A line of lights at the back of the stage was still shooting and firing like bullets through the canopy of our heads. Then the lights blared in intensity. We were blinded, for a second, before the clapping began.
Mason said in the friendliest way that can be afforded to the word “c–t.”
Mason, donning a relaxing happy go lucky pink shirt, and pants and slippers characteristic of a Tibetan monk; stepped out and grabs the microphone, flies into his signature captivating falsetto.
Ironically, as if attending to sensibilities of insomniacs and night owls, they began the show with A Wake Up Call.
As soon as they were done with that song, they immediately began stomping to lead in the intro drum beat for I was just a kid, and with the force of the crowd clapping in synchronisation behind me, I couldn’t help but snap photos to the beat.
Without their sleep deprivation, I suspect Mason wouldn’t have pushed himself harder through the veil of tiredness. What came out of the woodworks was fragmented gorgeous depravity.
That last Thursday night, Mason … you sang like a god.
If anything, without running the risk of glorifying you, it was an organic performance. Your voice, wild and wooden, and forgive me for saying, beautifully damaged and grotesque, transported us to a marriage of hell and heaven that belongs to you. Thank-you for bringing it to us.
Organic because the band wasn’t pretending to smile, they were clearly tired and stuck it out and got the job done.
Your pacing was good. Without pause, the band segued between many songs with only five or ten-second breaks. Your energy was electrifying.
For a lot of us who were seeing you for the first time, I am confident that you delighted us.
You reek of authenticity and maturity, which is evidenced by a lyric about the cynicism a lot of people growing up share:
“my head goes forward my heart goes back,”
One piece of evidence stapling this is a self-effacing comment that will linger with me before you began singing Broken Machine:
“when we wrote this song, we realised we had an album on our hands, rather than pieces of shit.”
The only regret I have (and it is selfish and downright demanding of me to say so) is that the first song I listened to by you was Excuse Me.
To you and the rest of the band, thank-you.
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