Nothing More

support ZOAX
author TL date 20/11/15 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite having been around for over ten years, it wasn't until they switched former drummer Jonny Hawkins to the frontman role, that American progressive hard rock/alternative metal group Nothing More started to make waves. Getting picked up by Eleven Seven music following the 2009 release of their fourth album "The Few Not Fleeting", lead to last year's game changer "Nothing More", an album - which was reviewed here - that has marked a rebirth for the band, who suddenly sounded equally ready to invade the radio waves and thoroughly rock venues of likely increasing sizes.

What holds true in the international music media and in the bigger scene rarely holds similarly true in little Denmark, though. So even though Nothing More had been gathering headlines online and done some groundwork to gather presence here, with a tour supporting Halestorm earlier this year, you could easily be concerned for the attendance of their first headlining show in Denmark. Luckily, it seems that Nothing More and their management have done diligent work in terms of promotion, however, as a solid gathering of fans has already found their way to the show in time for the support band ZOAX. The raw, low-ceiled surroundings of KB18 are not packed, granted - there's room to move get around and to and from the bar - but it is full enough to seem busy and have people stretching on their tippy toes, or moving towards the sides to catch a look of tonight's bands.

All photos courtesy of LionSkin Media

ZOAX

Occupying the support slot on the tour is ZOAX, a rowdy, chaotic post-hardcore group based in London, whose bearded and crazed frontman Adam Carroll soon has us all suspecting an Irish heritage, considering his accent and the suggestion that we all should down a Guinness if we're having any trouble understanding him. Sticking to local Tuborg Rå, however, we mainly understand him between songs, when he's not either screaming madly or singing off-kilter melodies and rather stares at the crowd with wild, mischievous eyes, boldly stating that we are now all best friends, and that if we do not move about to the band's music, it will be very embarrassing for us. Musically the band plays a chaotic style that brings to mind bands like Cancer Bats, Every Time I Die or letlive., only with slightly darker melodies in the few moments where melody is in focus.

Mostly, however, the band conquers via its energy, as all standing members flail and kick actively and smilingly while Carroll engages in whatever shenanigans he can come up with to loosen up the atmosphere and engage with people. He dons a pair of fluffy ears, he throws a box out into the middle of the crowd for him to perform on, and he collects a lit candle from one of the tables in the back to sneak around with, during one of the few calm moments in the soundscape. It makes for a very unserious mood in the room, which succeeds in warming the crowd up to the band and gets people up front headbanging happily to a song like "Jekyll Meets Hyde". Yet should anyone nurture particularly deep feelings for ZOAX's material ahead of time, they likely find it hard to connect with those, due to the silly nature of the performance and the somewhat messy sound. Regardless, though, there's no doubt that the band handles the task of warming up the audience very successfully, yet save for some tinges of interesting melody here and there, it's hard to say how many are encouraged to go home and look up the band's recorded material. It's more of a win stemming from charm and energy than from completely convincing songs.

Nothing More

Considering that Nothing More employs a few props - mainly extra drums on various stands - the changeover is delightfully short, and the group soon takes the stage before an anxious audience, doing so by firing on all cylinders. From the very start of "Christ Copyright", the show is loud as all hell, and though Hawkins - topless and chiseled like an Olympian as usual - has his vocals dipping below the mix on occasion, the mix is actually fairly balanced if not super detailed. Particularly the pulsing grooving of Daniel Oliver's bass is nice and defined, really letting us feel his role in the band's songs. And on the visual side, the band members rock out with great energy, the short Hawkins, in particular, flailing and contorting his body from atop his custom drum stand, much to the benefit of anyone more than two rows back, who would otherwise have trouble seeing him.

In fact, things get started with so much power, that you instantly worry if the band will not run out of steam, or get one-dimensional all too soon. Following the latest album's tracklist, however, "Mr. MTV" and "First Punch" prove potent compositions in terms of tugging at the body and urging us to rock about, while the gathered audience prove to be more than familiar enough to roar along to both the choruses and several lines of the band's verses. Hawkins remarks with flat humor that this, the first show on the band's EU tour, is "the jetlag show", and there is indeed occasional weariness to see in his eyes. But when the band plays at their most forceful, he proves to have more than enough stamina to continue throwing his body around, while still reaching his notes, while Oliver also lends his capable voice to supporting harmonies where the songs call for it.

"Gyre" and the tempo-changing "The Matthew Effect" follow - the former seeing Hawkins use a colorful control pad to add electronic effects to his voice - before the band pays tribute to the terror victims in Paris with "One Minute Of Noise". They actually do this as more of an intense little jam, keeping the energy in the room high and making the minute pass swiftly. Then comes the more balladic and anthemic section of "I'll Be OK", "Here's To The Heartache" and "If I Were", which slow down the pace enough for everyone to catch a welcome breath before loud singalongs ensue once more. Looking at the crowd in the center, you catch glances of several faces that clearly love these songs and are bursting to sing them back to Hawkins, doing even more to put to rest any concerns as to whether Nothing More would have any fans in Denmark. Clearly they have scores already in the room, many of whom really feel the material.

"Friendly Fire" and "Sex And Lies" follows, and if anyone has reservations about the somewhat petty lyrics of the latter, they don't show it, as the energy in the room stays rampant. At some point the band takes time to express their gratitude to the fans that have come out and get a typical audience photo for social media, before engaging in the bass-spinning equipment act they're known for during an extended version of the instrumental "Surface Flames". If you haven't seen this already, watch here, as the trick hardly lends itself well to written explanation.

The show takes a progressive turn during the latter half of "Take A Bullet", before rising to a climax when reaching "Jenny" and finally breaking from the album sequence by circling back to "This Is The Time". Particularly the former of the two is performed with a sense of extra importance to the band, with the hook "She stuck around for you" being cried out from both band and audience with desperate voices. "This Is The Time" then feels like a climax of a show that surprisingly has only kept growing in intensity, soliciting widespread rocking out around the venue and seeing people rip off their shirts in the middle. It isn't quite the end, however, as the band explains that they do not do encores, but they do give all that they have left in their final song "Salem", the only song not from their newest album, which includes a drum part where each member of the band plays his own drums, some of them throwing theirs around at the same time (sadly no video of this).

The band then departs, and the PA turns to background music to indicate that indeed, there will be no encore, but at this point, looking around there's a clear sense that people feel they've gotten their money's worth. Nothing More performed with great energy, equal to what you would expect from the power of their recorded songs. They did well at instigating movement and singalongs during songs without interrupting them the way some bands do, and they took appropriate breaks to engage with us and make the whole experience feel live. The only main areas of improvement could be that a more detailed sound mix could help them come across even more impressively, and that a higher stage would allow people beyond the first few rows to get a better look of the other bandmembers besides Hawkins. That being said though, considering the circumstances, Nothing More delivered a thoroughly hard rocking and enjoyable experience.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Christ Copyright
  • 2. Mr. MTV
  • 3. First Punch
  • 4. Gyre
  • 5. The Matthew Effect
  • 6. I'll Be OK
  • 7. Here's To The Heartache
  • 8. If I Were
  • 9. Friendly Fire
  • 10. Sex & Lies
  • 11. Surface Flames + bass solo
  • 12. Take A Bullet
  • 13. James
  • 14. This Is The Time (Ballast)
  • 15. Salem (Burn The Witch)

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