NME Emerge Tour featuring Wolf Gang + S.C.U.M @ Birmingham Academy 2, 7th October 2011

It’s NME Emerge Tour time once again and the venerable (but pretty crap these days to be honest) old institution dishes up some new bands for your delectation and delight.

Tonight was supposed to feature the lovely Niki & the Dove but I believe she had some family related business to attend to and was unable to play. Shame.

Happily S.C.U.M made it though, bringing their particular brand of floppy fringed gothy tinged ice pop to the masses. Lead singer Thomas Cohen comes across a little like the lovechild of Nick Cave and Brett Anderson with the odd dash of Bowie thrown in for good measure.


Was that a bit of a Bowie / Ronson thang going on when Thomas knelt down in front of the band’s guitarist? Could be. Whatever the references (for the record they’ve namechecked Throbbing Gristle, Ghosts and Liars), the hazy vocals, sparse synths and distorted guitars added a neat dreamlike quality to the set, with Cohen sinuously writhing barefoot (now that’s brave…can you imagine the bodily fluids that end up on the average venue floor?) across the stage like a viper.

They’ve been around in one form or another for three years now but their debut album, Again Into Eyes, has only just come out (on Mute, suitably enough given their synth fetish). Fans of everyone from Jesus and Mary Chain to, more recently, O Children would be well advised to check it…and them…out.


“I like the fact that there’s TV on in case we get a bit boring” observed Wolf Gang’s Max McGelliott referring to the TV’s scattered across the Academy’s walls. He needn’t have worried. Wolf Gang (initially Max’s solo project) are a pop lover’s delight with a seemingly endless line in catchy, anthemic choruses all taken from their rather fine debut album Suego Faults. I’m not a fan of Coldplay (hell, that’s an understatement) but I’ll grudgingly admit they do anthemic pretty well.


Wolf Gang have the same kind of knack, minus the preachy, whiney shit. If you’re looking for reference points, good luck to you. There’s a bit of Foster The People in there, some Stars, a little MGMT (before they went a bit nuts, bless ‘em), Duran Duran (Close In For The Kill is pure Le Bon and co) and even a dash of Queen (on Midnight Dancers for instance).


Max is a natural frontman, as cute as a pixie (actually he looks a bit like a pixie) and, despite the relatively small crowd (where were you Birmingham?), committed to giving it 100%. Some particularly enthusiastic bouncing around by one or two (new?) fans at the front showed he’s clearly getting something right. Ending the set with bombastic recent single Lions In Cages it’s easy to imagine this particular gang getting a hell of a lot bigger.

Review – Daron Billings
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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