REVIEW: NME Awards Tour, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Bloc Party headlined the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Bloc Party headlined the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

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The NME Awards Tour rolled into town last night, but headliners Bloc Party proved to be a disappointment.

New indie star Rat Boy was the subject of starstruck adoration, but Drenge rocked the Academy most with a set that showcased them as one of today's essential live bands.

Bloc Party headlined the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Bloc Party headlined the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Grime MC Bugzy Malone completed the four-act line-up, but the big story was the return to Newcastle of the recently reunited Bloc Party.

Performing new material, along with classics from their heyday as giants of the indie genre, their set featured some fine nostalgia, while also suggesting that they are yesterday’s band.

Back together after singer Kele’s failure to carve a solo career, and with a new drummer, they did little to indicate they will ever write songs like Banquet, Helicopter and Flux again.

And the sense that they are a band from a time gone by was not helped by taking to the stage after the full-blooded Drenge, who are continuing to improve as a live act.

Bloc Party headlined the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Bloc Party headlined the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The audience in the Academy – which was not a sell-out despite the stellar bill – were more than up for their set, too, bouncing around and reacting with electric fervour to their performance.

Drenge are about to take a hiatus from touring in order to work on their next album, but the second artist on the bill isn’t likely to go quiet any time soon.

Rat Boy has been tipped by every corner of the music press as the next big thing, but judging from the feminine screams when he took to the stage, he's already a major star.

Taking to the stage energetically in an outfit reminiscent of punk legend Captain Sensible, he also put on a stellar showing, and deserves the hype that he has generated.

Drenge stole the show at the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Drenge stole the show at the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Bugzy Malone opened the show for the early comers, sparking a circle pit and getting a good response to some of his lyrics.

Grime isn't a genre traditionally associated with Newcastle – most of the major artists skip the city on tours – and the initially lukewarm crowd did not bode well for him.

But they warmed to the showing, and with good flow and crowd-pleasing chat, he was a competent opener for the packed bill.

Drenge stole the show at the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Drenge stole the show at the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Rat Boy at the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Rat Boy at the NME Awards Tour at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.