You know the idiom “give it everything you’ve got?” Nothing But Thieves were the embodiment of that expression on Friday night at the Eatons Hill Hotel.
Fresh off the plane from London, the alt-rock five piece were clearly experiencing that unwelcome, walking-under-water side effect of jetlag, but fought through it to deliver a blisteringly good one-and-a-half hour set.
It was hard to pick a crowd favourite, with the venue erupting the second each new track became recognisable, but ‘Wake Up Call’, ‘Broken Machine’, ‘I’m Not Made By Design’, ‘Particles’, ‘Trip Switch’ and ‘Sorry’ seemed to generate the biggest sing-a-long vibes of the night, with much of the crowd being word perfect. It’s astounding to me that a band with such hooks and such power to relate can only sell a 2,000 capacity venue in Brisbane on a Friday night, but so it was for we lucky few, who hopefully will one day be reminiscing to our mates as we watch NBT pack out the Entertainment Centre: “remember when we were standing three metres away from them at Eatons Hill?”
A cover of ‘Immigrant Song’ was thrown into the middle of the set just to keep the audience on its toes, and ‘Reset Me’, ‘Ban All The Music’ and ‘If I Get High’ preceded set closer ‘Sorry’.
The entire band is highly adept, tight and professional, but frontman Conor Mason is that kind of talent that comes along just a few times in a generation. It’s easy to compare his haunting, pitch-perfect tenor to fellow falsetto masters Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley (check out NBT’s cover of ‘Lover, You Should Have Come Over’ if you haven’t already) and yet he retains his own, quite distinctive tone, and in the opinion of this reviewer, deserves his own seat at the greats’ table. Given the reach of Nothing But Thieves, I have no problem including him close to the top of the list of most underrated current vocalists in the world.
A short break saw the guys return for an encore which kicked off with ‘Honey Whiskey’. It was supposed to be followed up by ‘Itch’ (we caught a snap of the setlist), but Conor had hit the wall. He told the crowd he’d run out of steam and had only one song left in him, and he needed us to give him absolutely everything we had to get through it. The song was – fortunately – ‘Amsterdam’, and the audience showed it had plenty left in the tank for the undisputed hit of the night.
It was a floor-shaking, glass-breaking, no-prisoners-taking joy of a show. If the Brisbane performance was an example of the band when they’re running on fumes, then boy I’d love to see them play with a full tank. The Essex lads may have left their hearts in Amsterdam, but they left everything else they had on that stage at Eatons Hill this weekend. Get some sleep, fellas, and come back soon.
IMAGES (c) NJA Photography