Australian indie rockers smash Sheffield…
Before we get to the delicious main course that is DMA’s, allow me to describe the perfectly palatable starter in the shape of Scottish indie rockers Neon Waltz.
As well as having a band name that sounds like a line from a Tom Waits song, Neon Waltz have a penchant for catchy choruses and soaring vocals and while frontman Jordan Shearer spends large swathes of their energetic set staring into space as if he is trying to recall every FA cup winner since the end of the Second World War, his detached, vacant stage presence actually helps to keep the focus on punchy singles such as the irresistible Dreamers and the melodic Stranger Things.
With all respect to Neon Waltz however, the hordes of Burberry wearing, lager drinking, hugely partisan crowd are here for one thing and one thing only. Like the Courteeners before them, DMA’s have developed a rabid following despite indifference from the mainstream music media. The fact that they are already selling out O2 Academy’s across the country despite only releasing their first album Hills End in 2016 is a testament to their popularity. It is clear from the off that the young audience adores them. The crowd chants and sways, the atmosphere veering between a football match in the ‘70s and an Oasis gig in the ‘90s. These young whipper snappers don’t just love DMA’s, they support them.
I have a wonderful clarity from my position on the balcony of pint pots tossed, widespread pushing and pulling and arms held aloft as every word is sang back towards DMAs leader Tommy O’Dell. It is striking that in such raucous conditions this never spills over into naked aggression. The only disagreement that could happen during this love-in is an argument about who is the biggest DMA’s believer.
As someone who is a fan if not a full convert the whole thing is at once arresting, joyous and baffling. There is a nagging feeling that if DMA’s had dropped during the ‘90s Britpop movement that they so ache to emulate, they would have been just another band who wanted to sound like Oasis and the Stone Roses. Though that’s not to say that the Australian band don’t have the tunes to back up their bluster.
Play It Out is a barnstorming set opener and Melbourne almost sparks a riot as the Sheffield throng attempt to storm the stage. O’Dell takes it all in his stride, triumphantly punching the air while drummer Liam Hoskins launches a frankly astonishing all-out assault on his long suffering drum kit. Matthew Mason on guitar and Johnny Took on the acoustic guitar flesh out the live sound with each bringing their own disparate influences to the DMAs live experience.
Newer songs like Warsaw are greeted like old friends but it is the Hills End tracks like Delete and the incredible Step Up the Morphine that will live longest in the memory. By the time the band return to the stage for Feels Like 37, the whole room has collapsed into a sweaty, beer soaked mess. Lay Down caps off a great night of music and in that song’s final moments, as the crowd scream through cider smiles, it is clear that DMA’s are more like a cult than a band. These fans would follow them anywhere.
While DMA’s certainly wear their influences on their sleeve, nobody can deny the band has a certain raw power that you can’t teach, buy or steal. You’re born with it. And that’s why this band are selling out venues across the country. Get ready for the arenas lads…