First impressions may not be the be all and end all of a live show, but they most definitely set the tone for the evening, and Dabs (Bonner, vocals) managing to welcome Norwich instead of Nottingham didn’t put the performance in the best light. With the amount of touring they’re doing and shows they’re playing (currently on tour with The Slackers) though, it’s an easily forgivable mistake, and one the band were quick to laugh off.
The Maze isn’t known for being the biggest of the Nottingham venues, and although my initial concern was how all nine of the band were going to get on stage, it became apparent that wouldn’t be an issue – more importantly, how would they fit all their brilliant hair on stage? Their personalities weren’t exactly small either, and with a less established band it could have been a cause for disaster, so their ability to mesh so excellently was ultimately essential. They quickly established an atmosphere of familiarity with the crowd, a technique which speaks volumes about experience, and by the end of the instrumental intro that was mostly taken up by introducing the members, everyone felt comfortable enough to have a blast of an evening.
The set was clearly split into two halves; the personal and political tracks, the former kicking off with Luna Rosa, second track off their current EP Pull Up and Rewind. This established a relaxed yet upbeat mood which they only built on throughout, but what stood out was the manner in which they could truly show and deliver a good time, whilst having a sound as tight as that in the studio. This wasn’t specific to their new work, either, as second track on the billing was one of their older works, and although the development over time was almost tangible, it was executed with the same level of excellence.
Apparently the band didn’t think that the crowd were putting enough effort into their enthusiasm, and although they said themselves that they felt it wasn’t all the necessary, Dabs opened a free copy of their EP to whoever danced the most. Despite the small slip up of giving the wrong release date (“…which is out next week!” “It’s already out.”), the goodhearted gesture did nothing but get the crowd going even more.
Next up on the agenda was third track of Pull Up & Rewind – Grabbed My Hand. A mellowed out romantic track, the crowd adjusted to suit the mood, and despite Dabs’s voice sounding a little strained in places, the high quality and good vibes were unsurprisingly upheld.
As the set moved into its second half and took a turn for the political, the crowd seemed oblivious to anything but the solid confidence and carefree enthusiasm that radiated from the stage, and the madness that ensued. One of their older releases, La La World, brought about a new wave of gusty energy into the crowd, before closing track Change (also off their current EP), completed the night with a powerful beat and stronger meaning, conveyed directly through the band’s positive mood and explicit closeness.
New Town Kings didn’t go out to promote their music, they went out to show the crowd a good time and have one themselves, and their accessible and welcoming show proved to be a brilliant night, and not exclusively for those who were fans previously.