I’m sorry to break it to you, but if you weren’t at Cavern on the night of Sunday 8th March, then you missed what was probably one of the best gigs Exeter has seen for a long time. In the last stages of their headline UK tour, the hotly tipped Nothing But Thieves didn’t disappoint.
The Southend five-piece delivered a flawless set of tunes that combined a dash of indie, a hell of a lot of emotion, and a few tasteful, heartfelt, quiet moments. Thankfully, the band also weren’t afraid to drop into full-on rock mode when required.
Nothing But Thieves combine a clear knack for addictive riffs and melodies with the talents of their exceptional singer. They’ve quite rightly given him a free licence to let go and are reaping the rewards from his voice. I’ve been heard ranting before about how good this guy sounds recorded. Live, he’s even better. Boasting an incredible range and the ability to float effortlessly into his falsetto, Conor Mason soared. Regardless of whether the engaged crowd liked the genre, it was near impossible to not be impressed by the frontman’s voice.
Opening song, Itch, was a stormer and set the trend for the rest of the night. As the song hit its energetically charged chorus, Mason sang “I just want to feel / Something real” over the top of a monstrous riff. This outpouring of emotion is central to the music that Nothing But Thieves create. Previous singles, Wake Up Call and Graveyard Whistling, showcased the band’s knack for writing addictive choruses. The band seemed genuinely delighted to see a fair few fans in the Cavern singing the words of these songs back to them.
A new untitled song that included the refrain “Run” was one of the highlights of the night; it built from an acoustic opening to a Radiohead-esque whirlwind of beautiful noise. A mid-set cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song allowed the band to hit the Cavern with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll. The highlight of the night, however, was the set closer and latest single, Ban All The Music. Recently hyped as Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record in the World, Ban All The Music is a rapturous declaration about the state of music. Live, the song was ten times more assaulting, hitting all the right emotional chords with its rapturous bassline, riffs, and vocals. Nothing But Thieves look set to release a brilliant album. With the best yet to come from these guys, there is certainly nothing to worry about when considering the state of British rock music.