Nothing But Thieves just keep getting better

Nothing But Thieves just keep getting better

Nothing But Thieves return to Milan, a year after having opened for Liam Gallagher and The Black Keys at the I-days, and they do so by doubling the sold out of 2022, again at the Fabrique, which is now decidedly too tight. The sounds, the power and the fanbase of the Essex band seem to be calling for the Mediolanum Forum and there is a strong feeling that the next step must necessarily be that.

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In the meantime, it is the club in via Fantoli that has the privilege of presenting to Italian fans one of the most interesting releases of 2023: “Dead Club City”. Nothing But Thieves’ fourth studio album is the dystopian concept with an irresistible groove that still resonates freshly in the ears of alternative rock enthusiasts. Right from the start, with that “Welcome to the DCC” which seems written to open concerts, Nothing But Thieves’ statement is crystal clear: put away those horns cringe, tonight we will make you dance. Conor Mason, with his increasingly iconic way of doing things, asks that those dances be dishevelled, awkward, partly to urge a liberating act, partly as a personal request that helps him feel at ease in what he says is the his clumsiness. In reality he knows well that he is a concentration of atypical charisma, thanks to his aesthetic, stylistic and above all vocal uniqueness. Well, perhaps the opener and the album from which it is taken fail only in what the rest of the repertoire has always done admirably: giving prominence to one of the most beautiful voices of British alt-rock.

Conor, at this specific moment of the tour, is probably at 75% of his singing possibilities, yet even so he remains better than almost every other colleague. His uvula should be preserved, perhaps removing a couple of stages from the very busy calendar, but promotion is currently the lifeblood for a project that is one step away from its rightful place among the greats. Also because the guys know well that every new ticket buyer for one of their concerts will be loyal, he will come back and probably bring some friends with him. Or, why not, a new love to be sealed to the tune of the band’s best ballads.

“A marriage proposal would be fine here,” we hear the audience say at the end of “Lover, Please Stay”. And the comment becomes an instant prophecy when Conor frantically points to the front rows, before congratulating a newly betrothed couple. He dedicates “Impossible” to them, sparking the eternal envy of all the lovers present at the Fabrique. But these fusses are just flashes, in a live show in which Nothing But Thieves unleashes a sensational shot. They are the only band that, despite veering towards synths and more pop sounds, manages to seem even tougher, because they boast exceptional guitars, which oxymorically have a classic and contemporary sound at the same time. Furthermore, the five musicians seem to be constantly improving, in particular Joe Langridge-Brown, who has now reached a state of absolute performative grace.

Although “Pop The Balloon” confirms itself as the most impactful piece of the new album, it is surprising to note that it is “Oh No :: He Said What?” the best live performance among those extrapolated of the new material. Written at the end of the studio sessions of “Dead Club City”, excluded from the concept and then reintroduced for the deluxe version, it turns out to be the perfect encore from every point of view. It also provides a nice dance assist to the final explosion of “Amsterdam”, now a cornerstone of contemporary rock, and to the anticlimax of “Overcome”, a sparkling representation of the creative talent of Nothing But Thieves today.

For those who follow them from the first steps, the painful notes begin, that is, the painful renunciations of songs like “Graveyard Whistling” and “Particles”, which were believed to be destined to remain in the set list forever. But the quality of their production is also measured by exclusions, by a repertoire from which it is difficult to find something to skip and by an artistic evolution in full swing. Furthermore, Nothing But Thieves have a significant responsibility on their shoulders, because there are at least a couple of generations of disillusioned people who have placed on them the last feeble hopes towards a genre – yes, that genre – dead, resurrected, worn, defaced, and so on. But precisely because they don’t pretend to save anything, already on the fourth album they started to rework their sound, playing with the Eighties, pop and dance, mixing revivals and new trends in their own way, using every useful tool to deconstruct any stereotype and escape from inaction.
Only the most important thing remains the same as always: quality.


Welcome to the DCC
Is Everybody Going Crazy?
Tomorrow Is Closed
Broken Machine
Real Love Song
Drawing Pins
Do You Love Me Yet?
Ce n’est Rien / Gods / Number 13
Lover, Please Stay
Trip Switch
Pop the Balloon
Oh No :: He Said What?