FUTURES + Don Broco + Natives. Academy 2, Oxford. 13.07.12

They might as well have called this The Next Big Thing Tour. You can feel the heat coming off this thing from as far away as the M40. The bands aren’t cool kids, hipster bait, or even dudes taking a single scene by storm though, just the best new British rock bands, destined for the big time. There isn’t one look to the crowd either, one kind of people here, this is music with unashamed, brazen, mass appeal.

First on and Natives are so well polished it’s actually a little distracting. Sure, the Hampshire crew have already put in a few road hours under the name Not Advised but they belt out their summery pop-powered tunes as if they’re headlining Wembley while frontman Jim Thomas never stops moving, all potty mouthed and apparently impervious to nerves. They don’t quite have the songs to back up the bluster just yet but their time will come.

Don Broco are better. Don Broco are dangerously good in fact. The Bedford outfit have smoothed away some of their more interesting early edges on their soon to be released debut album but in the flesh they thrill. Frontman Rob is a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus, new songs like ‘Priorities’ and ‘Actors’ straight away sound like world beaters while now classic Broco cuts like ‘Dreamboy’ get the girls in the front screaming and the boys in the back shouting along. Sometime very soon even people who only listen to the radio will be joining in too and it’s going to be bloody brilliant.

Following that, and as big as Futures sound (bloody big), they can’t help but fall a little flat. Frontman Ant West seems to be suffering from a cold, maybe just end of tour exhaustion, and can’t quite hold the high notes of opener ‘Start a Fire’. However, having recorded their debut album ‘Karma’ almost two years ago only to find it lost in record label wrangling though, these are guys used to biding their time. By mid-set they’re motoring, a bold and beautiful mix of American rock and British melody.

‘Say My Name’ starts a mass sing-along, ‘Karma Satellite’ inspires a heartfelt hush so the assembled can listen in, and ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ is solid gold. There are a few sticking points- West’s accent occasionally, inexplicably turning American, and the band’s tech/second guitarist looking thoroughly bored at the side of the stage- but still, Futures weren’t kidding when they picked their name. Tonight they play like they’ll never see this room again, they play like the world is theirs, they play like stars.

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