NME’s annual Radar Tour is simply the best place on this planet to listen to new music. The Radar feature is what keeps that magazine in print, and they deliver the same magic, year on year, with this tour.
As is customary, the London date is usually the near the end of their jaunt through the UK, so as to benefit from the friendships/romances that will have blossomed on tour. This, the penultimate date, was held in NME’s veritable home, Koko. The centerpiece to hipster hot spot Camden, it stands 4 stories high with a moderate capacity and heaps of charm. The red lacquer walls and opulent boxes belie the intimacy of the venue — you are rarely more than 15 metres away from your idols.
Despite being preceded by Yes Giantess, the floor was relatively empty until this four piece took to the stage. With a wide variety of facial hair and some super smooth vocal harmonies, the performance was really hard to resist. Standing four abreast with their drummer behind them, Local Natives were supremely confident and had the songs to prove the point.
Their music works best when they can cut loose. Case in point, the rhythmically strong “Airplanes” — easily one the set’s highlights — which made good use of the two drumkits on stage. A cover of Talking Head’s “Warning Sign” was especially memorable for it’s five piece vocal harmony. They all sing exceptionally well, a trait that has brought numerous comparisons to Fleet Foxes.
The crowd got moving quickly and we all went mental when the stage invasion took place for the final song- “We want to invite on some friends” before the entire tour line up emptied on to the stage. This was the night’s most memorable moment, and they pulled the carpet out from the remaining acts, showing clearly that they should have been headlining.
Marina & The Diamonds
The first thing you notice when Marina Diamond (yes, that’s her real name) walks on stage is… she’s smoking hot. Blazing. The male members of the audience were momentarily transfixed, jaws wide open, whilst the girls came over frosty. We then noticed the childish tiger outfit she was wearing, which was hastily flung off half way through the opener.
Once the distractions are done with, you can take a hard look at this band. She rectifies this point quickly “I’m Marina & The Diamonds“- her band are her “fans” and the audience are the Diamonds- not an endearing dynamic. There is a also a strong hint of falseness behind this act, with the polished dance moves and identikit Florence & The Machine copy-cat name. They have arrived just in time to ride her success.
And yet, her music is extremely strong. Songs such as “Seventeen” and “Mowgli’s Road” are full of energy, showcasing her incredible voice. There is a single dud cover that may suggest she has not yet got the repertoire for a full set.
Golden Silvers were the headlining act, but in reality the night fell flat once they took the stage. The crowd were pumped after the preceding acts and during the 30 minute wait things got even more heated.
Their set was a lot of noise with some great melodic elements in between. In a more expansive venue they may have shone, but Local Natives would probably have filled the coveted spot more easily. Their synths are intuitive, but an extra effects member doesn’t hide the need for a guitarist (see “Arrows Of Eros”).
For the final song they brought on the Golden Horns — a three piece brass band with tenor sax, trombone, and trumpet — to close with “True No.9 Blues (True Romance)”. This made up some ground but I still left feeling a little short changed — the finale was a real anti-climax.