The Naked and Famous. Live at Academy 3, Manchester. 08/03/2011

Review by Chris Gilliver

Bam! £25 gone just like that for a ticket from a tout that costs £7 at face value. And now for the key question that I will be asking myself for the rest of the night: does this make me a fuck wit?! I’m quite used to weaseling my way onto the guest list in return for a few hundred words – not as easy as it might sound – but tonight I can only get one (two is the norm) as The Naked and Famous are so well regarded by the critical cognoscenti that everyone wants a piece of the action. Even the enigmatic Jessie J (her success is an enigma) has covered ‘Young Blood’, easily the best song by anyone of last year. Incidentally, The Naked and Famous should have come top of the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll. I, personally, would happily pay £25 to hear that song alone played live, so everything else is a bonus. Plus I don’t usually pay for tickets, so an exception can be made for an exceptional outfit.

In their home country, New Zealand, The Naked and Famous beat Katy Perry and Snoop Dog to number one; here, they’ve just sold out Academy 3, which is still a major step up from their last Manchester show at The Ruby Lounge. When New Zealand’s most famous musical export, Flight of the Conchords, is cited by an enthusiastic member of the crowd, the band turn away ashen-faced. In their more accessible tracks they sound like the glorious bastard child of MGMT and Passion Pit, creating the most uplifting life-affirming indie, synth-pop imaginable. Young Blood and Punching In A Dream are songs that will soundtrack, define and recall the most important and momentous moments of many young peoples’ lives – this is surely what they were created for. Even if you’re just getting ready for work, or dropping the kids off at the pool, these songs make it feel like you’re having an epiphany. They are, of course, the best received elements of tonight’s show, and not least because most people here do not know the rest of their repertoire. It will be interesting to see them again after the album’s release this coming Monday. Buy it!

Sandwiched between these tracks – one comes at the beginning the other at the end – are a host of others that are met with a variety of emotions, from enthusiasm to indifference. There seems to be something of MGMT’s split-personality about The Naked and Famous, as they surge from the mainstream to the more difficult, leftfield, Radiohead-esque songs. It will be interesting to see whether they end up making a play for the mainstream or do an MGMT (I suspect the former), but for now we will let ‘Young Blood’ surge over us with all its power, and I will squeeze all the value out of those £25. Is it worth it? It’s worth every single penny, and next time the touts will be charging a whole lot more.

Catch them at Dot To Dot Festival on 30th May.


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