Amid their best material, new songs shone
Wild Nothing have always been a fantastic live proposition. It helps that they’ve always seemed to have the songs to hold your attention, but the performance has always been part of the beauty of it. The songs, while understated, are always imbued with an extra resonance in their live incarnations – Jack Tatum’s voice is clearer, a lot of the effects that cloud his delicate tones are removed, and you can see the intent on his face.
Always seen as a relatively low-key cousin to relative megastars like Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wild Nothing have had some benefits from flying a little under the radar – their albums have been, largely, more consistent than Kevin Parker’s crew, and certainly better than Ruban Nielson’s group. Jack Tatum has real chops, and records like Nocturne and the current record Indigo prove it.
Wild Nothing’s sound is like late night radio in 1985 – there’s some Twins (Cocteau and Thompson), some Cure, some Orange Juice, a little Jesus & Mary Chain… but there’s that classic ’80s sheen you’d find on a Steely Dan or Talk Talk record.
Their long set at Mama Roux’s was surprising, considering Birmingham’s clubs and pubs aren’t often graced with elongated sets. They played a selection of their best material, but the new songs really shone: Wheel Of Misfortune, a beautiful cut from the most recent record, went down incredibly well, with its rippling groove and gauzy guitar.
Partners In Motion, with its rolling Smiths groove and keyboard gloss, felt more human, more emotionally impactful than its studio counterpart. Flawed Translation was a winner with the crowd, and had most of them grooving.
They opened and closed the show with selections from the 2012 breakout album – and still many fans’ favourite – Nocturne. Opening with the title track is always a highlight, and it’s always more muscular live. That they’ll close with Shadow is never really in doubt, because it’s probably their best-known and most-loved track, despite being relatively unrepresentative of most of their recorded output.
Wild Nothing are an incredible live act. The sell-out gigs on this tour prove it. But to be there, in a weird little club, down a weird little street in Birmingham, hearing the songs from the new record live for the first time, was glorious.