Led by Amber Run, Nottingham’s next big white hope, this tour showcased some of the country’s hidden gems.
Date: November 9, 2014
Venue: The Bodega
The New Faces Tour is a one-week, four-band roaming gig put together by blog site/arts club Communion that showcases four of Britian’s finest and hotly-tipped new artists on the scene, culminating with Nottingham wunderkinds, Amber Run.
Up first are Oxford glitch-pop four piece Pixel Fix. From the onset, they’re on form, sounding immediate and organic like Two Door Cinema Club with more effects pedals and without the burden of the second album syndrome.
They’re tight, well-drilled and foot-tappingly contagious, and the Bodega is gripped. Kudos to their lead singer, too, who stops a song halfway through to get help for a young girl who had fainted in the crowd.
Thankfully after some water and fresh air, she was ok, and hopefully she got to see London’s superbly afro’d diva Kimberley Anne, who’s next up. She mixes acoustic pop with an Afro-beat thud, courtesy of a xylophone from Africa and her percussionist Glynn.
Her highlight is close to being an acoustic cover of Robin S’s Show Me Love, but that accolade goes to Liar, a dirty, scuzzy number which sounds like Rihanna doing The Breeders.
The enigmatic Fyfe usually hides behind weird camera angles or painted faces on his promo artwork. In reality he’s a shy, unbecoming character. It’s just him, his guitar, samples, a drum pad delicately tapped by his cohort who helps Fyfe construct provocative little pop tunes.
His is a sparse, skittish musical landscape, devoid of engagement but brimming with intrigue, skill and pop-noir.
This year has been a massive year for Notts-based artists. Indiana has shone, Ronika released an album of Madonna-kissed pop while Sleaford Mods go from strength to strength. Sitting comfortably in that pantheon of Notts’ finest are Amber Run, Nottingham’s answer to a post-Mumford revolution.
While Dog is Dead work on new material for their sophomore album, Amber Run have picked up their mantle. Laden with tunes so catchy they should come with a health warning, this band are surely destined for FM playlists.
They begin with I Found, stripping it back to an echoic, harmonious anthem, heavy with reverb and affects as well as pathos and a chilling swell of heartache.
It’s testimony to the band’s ability to write anthemic show stoppers that we’re left guessing which song they’ll end with. Spark, with its hand-clapping mantra of “let the light in” would’ve been ideal. Noah, with its sing-along titular chorus perfect, while first encore song Heaven would have nailed it, too. But they opt for early track Little Ghost, at times haunting, at others scintillating. All the time brilliant.
“I don’t wanna be the centre of anything, just part of something bigger”, sings silk-voiced front man Joe Keogh on Pilot. You will be. You will be.