- Tiana Speter
LIVE REVIEW | Nothing But Thieves Are Still Potent, Lovable & Undeniably Futureproof
It's been a red hot minute since The Soundcheck busted out a gig review, but when the opportunity arose to review the band that kick-started this very site's first ever gig review back in 2016 (and a follow up in 2018), there was zero hesitation to go and spend a school night in the presence of one of the most compelling acts to ever grace the rock and adjacent realms. Welcome back, Nothing But Thieves.
With diehard NBT Aussie fans offered the chance to upgrade their tickets for early entry, the line snaking down the Brunswick Street Mall in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley well before doors opened firmly showcases the voracious following the Essex group have cultivated down under over the years. But that initial outside queue paled in comparison to the line-up for merch inside the venue before any bands had even stepped foot onstage, with a throng of people stacked up all the way to the back of tonight's venue: the chandelier-clad beauty that is The Fortitude Music Hall. With a queue sprawling from the front entrance all the way to the actual stage, there seemed more of a chance of accidentally ending up in the green room with the actual band if the line kept swelling and exceeded the spacious venue itself than making it to the front of the horde. But just as many inched tantalisingly closer to the merch desk, in the blink of an eye the line suddenly evaporated. And just like that: Nothing But Thieves had sold out of every single merch item before the support band even started.
And on the topic of supports, Brisbane's Full Flower Moon Band soon swagger onstage to a room swollen with a mix of punters who either know every word to the local collective's alt-rock concoctions, or are looking smug and/or crestfallen after their attempted run at some NBT merch. Once self-described as "valium-induced pop", Full Flower Moon Band shake, rattle and roll across the Fort's generous stage, wallowing in hypnotic layers of haze that pulses with an overarching languid grit alongside an animated performance from frontwoman Kate 'Babyshakes' Dillon.
With the top layer of The Fort curtained off, the Brissie crowd bulges into the lower level, soundtracked by the dulcet tones of multiple hair metal classics before the lights fade and the heroes of the evening appear onstage. It's clear from the extremely varied and eclectic demographics on display in the room that Nothing But Thieves have effortlessly found a musical sweet spot, forging a sound all their own that appeases all from older couples dressed to the nines to a man sporting head-to-toe metalcore attire raucously applauding as the set dives headfirst into the blazing banger Futureproof.
Cleverly mixing between outright fan-favourites, a rare older cut (the solo OG track Trip Switch from the band's debut album) and plenty of softer moments among the singalong anthems, Nothing But Thieves are in fine form as always, even despite the bass criminally getting lost in the mix from certain vantage points and Mason apparently suffering some in-ear issues throughout the first half of the set. But Mason soldiered on and bassist Phil Blake remained a potent presence across the stage throughout the set despite any sound shenanigans, particularly so when frontman and possible sonic angel Conor Mason stitches Blake up by yelling to the crowd "who has a beer?" and ever-so-lovingly forcing Blake into a leather boot shoey onstage to the crowd's rapturous delight (and shout out to Phil for his onstage existential crisis post-shoey when he was unsure if he was supposed to put his soggy footwear back on. Hope he swapped out for some clean socks before the encore. Wet socks = hell).
Amid the wholesome vibes and searing musicality on display across the board (noting that while the bass and vocals may have lost some spark in the mix here and there, the guitar mix is on fire), Nothing But Thieves also once again prove why they have so rapidly expanded their global fanbase and exploded into far larger venues in 2023 since their first visit to our shores many years ago. Lovingly connecting with the crowd throughout their 1.5 and a bit hour set, fans equally belt out choruses before dissolving into euphoria anytime Mason flexes his eye-watering vocal range and glimmering falsetto - and the smiles onstage speak volumes to the band's equal love for their craft and their fans.
While insatiably taut and explosive onstage, particularly during their pre-encore roof-raiser Amsterdam, the true Nothing But Thieves magic is not just their ability to weave stirring anthems and riff-fuelled rock without breaking a sweat - but it's also their ability to embrace momentary imperfections and leave zero trace of ego on the stage alongside a performance that launches the five-piece beyond their modern contemporaries and into their own stratosphere. Whether it's Mason momentarily messing up lyrics and adorably feigning falling to the floor before transporting the entire room to another dimension with his otherworldly vocals, guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown flipping his hair like a 90s pinup before launching into a blistering solo, drummer James Price nearly levitating off the kit, bassist Phil inciting swoons in the next city or guitarist and keys extraordinaire Dom Craik seemingly playing in two places at once on multiple occasions, Nothing But Thieves retain an unwavering sense of positivity and personality at every turn. And if you happen to be a fan of the band's latest single Welcome to the DCC (seriously, how could you not be), you'll find happiness near the tail end of this set with the bouncy number proving just as much of a gleeful earworm in person as it is through speakers - but an extra special surprise also appeared in the form of an unreleased NBT track, with the Queens of the Stone Age-goes-clubbing City Haunts effectively bringing the house down.
As Mason reminds the crowd, this is one of their first headline tours in a good while, and! A brand new album is imminent in 2023 from Nothing But Thieves, with the hotly anticipated Dead Club City due out on July 7. And if you missed this round from NBT or you just can't wait for more from the English rockers, never fear! Mason also rounded out the night declaring they will indeed return to Australian in 2024, so definitely keep your eyes out for more announcements over the coming months. For now, the 2023 adventure continues tonight for a sold out evening in Melbourne, before the band hit up Groovin The Moo, a sold out show in Sydney and a final appearance at Metropolis in Fremantle on Wednesday 3 May.
All in all, there was never any doubt Nothing But Thieves would bring the goods and Brisbane certainly provided a warm welcome to the group (albeit one less rowdy than the Brightside show the gents referenced from many moons ago). Nothing But Thieves also once again proved they are entirely themselves future-proof like their firecracker track that opened the set in the beautiful walls of the Fort. And, more importantly, they also showcased in unforgettable fashion that they're a band who ultimately just make you happy to be alive.
WANT MORE NOTHING BUT THIEVES ACTION?
CHECK OUT THE TIME TIANA HUNG OUT WITH GUITARIST DOM CRAIK HERE.
AND CHECK OUT THE CHAT SHE RECENTLY HAD WITH VOCALIST CONOR MASON HERE.
NOTHING BUT THIEVES AUSTRALIAN 2023 TOUR DATES
FOR MORE INFO, HEAD TO: www.nbthieves.com
NOTHING BUT THIEVES WILL RELEASE DEAD CLUB CITY ON FRIDAY 7 JULY 2023
VIA RCA/SONY MUSIC.
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BY TIANA SPETER