If someone tells you that rock and roll is dead, then they clearly weren’t at the Theater of the Living Arts this past Sunday. Nothing But Thieves released the critically acclaimed album Broken Machine in September of 2017. This album showed that the band from Essex, England could not only avoid the “sophomore slump” but also continue to develop a style that made them an alternative sensation from their first album. Although Nothing But Thieves and their openers often have the alternative tag attached to their musical style, their live performance Sunday night screamed for a new generation of rock that appears to be in very good hands.
The show opened with the English alt-rock group, Demob Happy, who had an infectious energy and a style reminiscent of popular grunge bands. They were followed by a powerful performance from grandson, who had a highly politically charged set that elicited many supportive cheers from the fans. It was refreshing to see someone so dedicated to expressing the true meaning of his songs through music. The second he left the stage, he sprinted across town to perform with Mike Shinoda, who was also in Philly on Sunday.
Nothing But Thieves took the stage with the explosive “I Was Just A Kid” from Broken Machine. The crowd’s reaction made it clear who everyone was there to see. They followed this up with “Ban All the Music” and “Wake Up Call”, some fan favorites from their debut and self-titled album. Lead singer Conor Mason, danced around the stage and belted out one of the most unique and impressive ranges in current rock, which was shockingly as powerful live as it is in recordings. Conor noted “this crowd is more than double what we had last time we were in Philly / so thanks for being here for us”.
It was clear that the band put as much effort into developing a flow to their concert as they do in their albums. They floated seamlessly from earthshaking, hard rock songs like the new single “Forever and Ever More” into slower emotional tracks like “Afterlife”. Adam Godfrey of Demob Happy actually subbed in on a few songs to play guitar, as Nothing But Thieves guitarist, Dominic Craik, had recently broken a finger on his fret hand in an accident with the door of the tour van (although he played about 90% of the set which is crazy to think about).
The crowd turned with the emotion of every song, and Conor didn’t have to tell them to know what to do. “Live Like Animals” worked the crowd into a frenzy, dancing up a storm and “Sorry” had them crying back every word. They wrapped up the night with an encore that ended with their single, “Amsterdam”. They left the stage as the triumphant rock stars who had just finished a 2 month tour in the US. However, the grind never stops, as their new EP What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way come out this Friday and they celebrate with another tour through Europe.
Check out the setlist below:
- I Was Just a Kid
- Ban All the Music
- Wake Up Call
- I’m Not Made by Design
- Live Like Animals
- Number 13
- If I Get High
- Trip Switch
- Forever and Ever More