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Live Review: Nothing But Thieves @ The Fortitude Music Hall

27 April 2023 | 10:41 am | Liv Dunford

“I think Phil wants to do a shoey…make some noise for Uncle Phil!”

More Nothing But Thieves More Nothing But Thieves

It’s been four years since Essex rockers Nothing But Thieves have graced Australian shores, which is almost as long as the admission line that had waited – or rather camped – for hours outside Fortitude Music Hall. Considering that Australia just so happened to be the first port of call of the Thieves’ Welcome To The DCC World Tour, it’s no revelation that by 7:30 the line had stretched around the block and presumably all the way to your grandma’s house. 

Surfacing as the alluring and heady brainchild of frontwoman 'Babyshakes' Dillon, Full Flower Moon Band sauntered across the stage for their opening set. Consisting of rich, hypnotic vocals and gritty 70s riffs, each track lulled punters into an art-rock-infused psychedelic trance. Trainspotting, featured on their 2022 album Diesel Forever, left the entire room in ecstasy aftermath for the ages – everyone on the floor had their neck and shoulders craned backward as if doing so allowed them to marinate in the magic and otherworldly nature of Dillon’s creativity. 

Pulsing scarlet stage lights proved a brutal but effective cut through vigorous audience chatter. Accompanied by a dark and deep bass synth, if the Thieves themselves hadn’t strolled into the open in that very moment, one might’ve been inclined to assume The Purge had just commenced. Thankfully for us, it wasn’t The Purge, albeit initiating the show with an utter rocket launch of a song that is Futureproof would arguably have the same impact. Take a thick, guttural lead line from guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown and juxtapose it with a series of sonically unreal falsettos from vocalist Conor Mason and you’ve got yourself a crowd of utterly feral humans. 

“Are you ready for a good night?” Mason grinned at everyone already glistening with sweat, fully knowing the answer. Drummer James Price treated the room to the iconic opening kicks of Broken Machine’s (2017) first track I Was Just A Kid, and the mosh screamed the lyrics with such intensity that halfway through the song, Mason shrugged and turned the mic to face the rest of us. 

Fondly reminiscing upon the band’s first Brisbane gig at the Brightside, Mason remembered the crazed crowd surfers that danced (or surfed) along to their original songs from their self-titled first album released back in 2015. “We’ve been around for a long time now and have got quite the collection of songs. And this one’s a slightly older one; this one’s called Trip Switch.” The collective gasp that this announcement elicited from the crowd ironically sounded like the flick of an actual switch or perhaps the hiss of a rather angry cobra. For aesthetic purposes, I’m running with the first analogy.  

A crimson haze made an appearance a second time as the band decided to have a bit of fun and just jam for a solid five minutes while Mason ducked to the side stage for possibly a well-deserved iced tea and reflexology massage. Meanwhile, distorted guitar riffs courtesy of a fuzz pedal bled into the opening notes of Forever & Ever More, from their 2018 EP What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way?

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With guitarist Dominic Craik closing the song in a tasty octave run, Mason jumped at the opportunity to comment on the unfortunate weather and sneak in a few clandestine details about their upcoming album. “I was really looking forward to some sun, but we came in the wrong month. And I still got burnt in the rain yesterday. I don’t know how I did that.” Everyone laughed at him as if to say: Well, this is Australia what did you expect? 

“We’ve been squirrelled away for five months working on a new record; I’m going to say it’s our best one yet.” Mason was, of course, talking about the impending release of their fourth studio album Dead Club City, out this year on July 7th. 

Moral Panic’s (2020) fifth number Phobia introduced a new layer of dark synth pop-rock elementals, the intensity of which increased in tandem with the rising tempo after the second chorus. The audience became a sea of hair as everyone headbanged while Craik slid across the stage, lifting his guitar into the air. 

Mason swung around to look at Blake, a sly lilt in his voice. “I think Phil wants to do a shoey.” The room erupted in pure chaos, and Blake looked as if he was torn between smacking Mason across the face with his guitar or hightailing it backstage. He did not, in fact, want to do a shoey. Unfortunately, when you are a gladiator in the Colosseum, whatever the crowd says, goes. A “shoey!” chant surfaced from somewhere near the sound desk, and ever the persevering soldier, Blake proceeded to take off his boot and appease the masses with a perfectly disgusting shoey. The band cheered him on, playing a series of upbeat circus-style tunes while Mason sat on the front speakers and laughed. And laughed. He might’ve even laughed again before encompassing a bedraggled Blake in a hug. “Make some noise for Uncle Phil!” We did. 

The hiatus in preparation for the encore was imbued with continual chants of “one more song!” which then progressed into “two more songs!” and sporadically increased until someone from the bar screamed out “seven more songs!” Walking back out to a chorus of cheers, the Thieves blasted into their newest single Welcome to the DCC, with both Blake and Craik switching to keys. 

“Help me sing this last one because I’m jet lagged,” was how Mason led the night into its closing number Impossible. Everyone swayed along, singing their hearts out, and continued to praise the band long after they’d departed. Only one desperate scream could be heard above the ruckus. 

“Wait what? Come back and play Itch!” It was me.