Not too long ago we had a chat with Blitz Kids ahead of their headline tour, which we went to check out at Rock City. Still buzzing off their release of The Good Youth at the start of the year, the boys were introduced with solid support from Scholars and Natives, both bands with potential running through their sets. Despite having had a year packed with tours and general antics, every track of the set was delivered with so much life and energy that you’d think it was the first time they’d performed.
Having seen two brilliant shows from the alt-rock four-piece in the past year (once supporting Mallory Knox, and once supporting Canterbury), I expected to be blown away by a refined, tightened, heightened set from the word go; perhaps I set my expectations impossibly high, but what came across in the first few tracks felt almost as though they were unprepared. A shaky vocal opening to fan-favourite Sometimes didn’t put the night in the best stead, and with the drums seeming to overpower the show a tad, there was a distinctly hollow sound. This all balanced out in the chorus where the track came into its own, though there came the odd moment where the surging chant of, “all this time you never knew”, was clearer from the crowd than it was from frontman, Joe James.
Run For Cover fell into a few of the same problems, but taking a switch back in time to their 2012 EP Never Die seemed to resolve the issue. Warrior held a certain tenderness – ironic, considering the ferocity of the track – and with it a clarity throughout the verses, and in turn the chorus seemed lost in the masses. The first truly impressive track of the night came in Keep Swinging, where everything slotted together as you’d expect it to. From the proud and clear beginnings of the track, through the mind-shaking bass and sculpting drums, it could even be considered flawless. Bravo.
Of course, the act’s attitude contributes massively to the mood of the night, and anyone who’s even heard of Blitz Kids’s live show will know full well that they give more energy that most crowds know what to do with (Nottingham remains an exception here, I might add – they handled the enthusiasm excellently). What’s incredibly… well, touching about Joe’s attitude tonight is the sheer appreciation. He boldly grins that the night “definitely has potential to be the best show on the tour”, adding that it’s their “first ever headline show in Nottingham. Maybe that’s a lie, but it’s our first headline show here”.
Delving back into the archives, You’re Dead To Me and Strangers With Memories kept up the clarity on the set, with a darker and heavier edge creeping into the show and the crowd responding with resounding cheers where the words escaped them. Rollings the clock back even further, Joe seemed pleasantly surprised with the percentage of the crowd who were familiar with the subsequent tracks. The rougher edges to the tracks highlighted just how much their sound has developed, but these feistier songs came with a performance that exuded confidence and comfort.
Despite the majority of songs being accompanied by an introduction, the vibes in the room kept the show humming along nicely, with Maybe We’ll Die, Maybe We Won’t finishing up the trip down memory road to return to On My Own, raising the bar even further. But with more recent tracks came chanting fans, and Joe was back to fighting to be heard,
After a frank expression about a typical close (“I can’t be arsed to do an encore”), Jono Yates joined the frontman on the speakers for closing pair All I Want Is Everything and, of course, Perfect. The energy captured in the studio versions of every track only amounts to a fraction of that of their live show, and an anecdote or two about only playing to bar staff for years is tinted with overwhelmed appreciation. There’s pride oozes from every note of the show, and such an accessible and powerful set suited fans and newcomers alike.
If people threw roses at the end of a gig, I don’t doubt they’d have thrown them for this.