Whiskey drink, vodka drink, larger drink, cider drink…

Climbing the stairs to the Forum’s cloakroom, I felt exhaustion set in. This had been a big week. Between Splendour In The Grass sideshows and Open House Melbourne, every night had been one with plans. It had seemed almost a blessing in disguise when Chromeo’s show was cancelled due to exhaustion. One night off in the week would probably be a good thing. The bad news for tonight’s acts was that getting me motivated at the tail end of Splendour Week could prove a difficult task.

Nothing But Thieves, with Psychedelic Porn Crumpets,
The Forum, Melbourne, July 29 2018

Luckily, the combination of the Forum’s trademark themed cocktails (tonight serving ‘Broken Machines’ and the superior ‘Trip Switch’ – ‘Honey Whiskey’ must have been too obvious) and the opening strains of the support was enough to revive some energy. Sounding like Supergrass creating a King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard tribute show, the group played an accessible kind of fuzz-rock through a fog on stage so thick the band looked like they’d been transported to a 1990s grunge video clip. Whilst quite a different kind of sound to the headliner, the pop-rock proved to be crowd-pleasing and a nice warm up for the main part of the night.

From the cloudy darkness on stage rang out what could have been a last minute sound check of the drum kit, but was suddenly realised as a prolonged opening to I Was Just A Kid. As the lights lifted with the chorus, we saw the band clad in matching black, with singer Conor Mason leaning slightly into the microphone, hopping a little as he sang.

Conor and the band proved to be versatile showmen live, moving from soulful wailing to unexpected, almost Queens Of The Stone Age-esque power riffs. With little to say between songs, we were teased instead with creepy interludes, the best of which seeped into a bubbly rendition of Particles. Whilst most of the set was played pitch-perfect, almost indistinguishable from a CD recording, highlights were when the band deviated and expanded upon the songs, like a particularly bass-heavy rendition of Trip Switch.

Only two albums into their career, what Nothing But Thieves brought to Melbourne was a lot of variety, seemlessly transitioning from ballads to rock, yet never leaving any band member awkwardly on the sidelines. However, the best moments were those when the band built dramatically, like in Broken Machine and especially Soda where even the Forum itself seemed to join the band, raising the lights to meet the song’s crescendo.

Nothing But Thieves have been good to this city, already making the long journey from the UK several times, but after a quality performance competing against a week of others, the audience were left already anticipating the next visit.

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