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[Review] Nothing But Thieves @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 27/04/2023

Review By Emily White

A truly iconic frontman is the cornerstone of all successful rock bands, and Nothing But Thieves’ vocalist Conor Mason fully embraced this role as he offered the audience a peak into his soul this Friday night. Making a triumphant return after a five-year Aussie hiatus, it was abundantly clear that fans of Nothing But Thieves are as loyal as they come – selling out their one-night-only Welcome To The DCC World Tour at The Fourm.

Sudden pounding drums began to fill the room as the heartrate of the crowd abruptly increased. Melbourne punk trio CLAMM took to the stage to warm up the sea of rock enthusiasts. The three-piece band’s incredibly tight metal riffs repeated in waves, followed by minimal, yet fierce vocals from guitarist Jack Summers. The songs following themes of rage and frustration in navigating ‘the nature of society today’, making them a highly relatable outlet for today’s young people.

The members of CLAMM are standout musicians individually – bassist Stella Rennes with her power stance and immovable glare, and drummer Miles Harding being the backbone of the tight and increasingly-paced songs. The band’s presence reached its peak in their final track – a complete blackout of the stage being decorated by individual golden spotlights – the glam-rock look that remained persistent as the set came to a close. The unique and impromptu signature sound left the crowd in an ominous buzz as Nothing But Thieves took control of the stage.

The Forum lit up as fans of the UK alt-rock band began to clap and cheer, far before they were set to take the stage. Having released their last record Moral Panic in 2021, and recently announcing their fourth album Dead Club City, this tour had a plethora of songs to get through in a seventy-five-minute set.

Sudden flashes of red strobe lit up the crowd as the band confidently wondered towards the stage. A total treat for the eyes, it was hard to know where to place my gaze as the five-piece band thundered directly into their first hit single, Futureproof. Front-man Conor Mason was born for the stage, belting through his unmistakably iconic vocal range with arms outspread – the band’s movement so fluid, slipping seamlessly between instruments mid-song.

The show powered along with hit after hit, each with slower paced verses building tension towards a soaring chorus.  It was impossible to stand still, with every track bringing the energy of an encore performance. The tight-knit grunge feel flowed directly into Is Everybody Going Crazy?, where choppy-sounding guitar met similarly paced lighting, creating a surreal and glamorous experience. Unlike their peers, the beats and melodies in Nothing But Thieves’ songs are so uniquely unpredictable, throwing you off balance at every opportunity.

A highlight of the band’s discography is the heart wrenching lyrics often of self-hatred, and the pains that come with life and love.  Lyricist and guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown is an absolute genius when it comes to the relatability of his words. The heart-breaking rock ballad Real Love Song was a standout; the mic being flipped on the crowd leaving every voice screaming ‘I cried so hard I died sad. Losing all that’s making me human inside sad’. There was no concept of a fourth wall for the entirety of the show, with the harmonies and backing vocals being a joint effort between the band and audience.

‘It’s such a fucking pleasure to be back’, Conor yelled as the house lights illuminated the faces that had come to see him. His crowd work so naturally comfortable, we may have been let in on a secret or two that night… one being the announcement of a 2024 Australian tour!

Soda was fan-favourite, a song filled with insane falsetto verses, bleeding into heavy, painfully relatable belting choruses; ‘I don’t wanna be myself, just wanna be someone else’. These words were sung by every person in the audience, with the band seeming so comfortably unphased by their impact. A beautiful, ominous instrumental played as Conor exited the stage, feeling spacey and reminiscent of an extended Pink Floyd guitar solo.

Upon the front-man’s return the band played out the night with all their greatest hits, filled with improvised jams and synchronicity of movement in the crowd. Golden lights filled the space, the warmth being felt right through to the back corners of the venue. Particles, a personal favourite felt like the perfect way to send out the night; ‘If I need to rearrange my particles, I will for you’. But it didn’t end there.

City Haunts, a new unreleased track off the upcoming album was teased to the crowd as ‘the best one we’ve done by far’, and it was truly spectacular. Fans can expect an upbeat, sultry, glam rock feel on the album – so totally fresh and likely to be accompanied by even more chilling live sets. 

The night played out on a high, with tracks including Unperson and Welcome to the DCC leaving the pit jumping uncontrollably to the heavy beats and rusty guitar. Ending the night with Impossible, the band’s harmonies paired with the crowd under gorgeous sweeping lights is an experience that cannot be replicated – perhaps not until their return down-under in 2024.

You can catch Nothing But Thieves on the final leg of their 2023 Australian tour, playing Groovin’ The Moo in Qld and WA next week!

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