The NME Awards Tour, now amazingly in its 20th year, has long been a proving ground for nascent stars from Coldplay to The Killers and Arctic Monkeys.
Thanks to security procedures that saw every single gig-goer having to empty their pockets and be subjected to a frisking before entering the venue, many were left stuck in long queues while first band of the night, The Wytches, played.
Second up were Kent garage-punk duo Slaves. Isaac Holman drums and hollers with all the combined subtlety of a breezeblock, while Laurie Vincent’s guitar playing is in-your-face abrasive.
But this results in raw terrace shoutalongs such as Feed The Mantaray, (‘That’s a silly stupid song isn’t it? I mean it’, says Holman at its finish) and Where’s You Car, Debbie? that are thrillingly visceral. They’re a grower.
Next up are Fat White Family, a six-piece with a reputation for live shows that leave the audience covered in various bodily fluids.
While Southsea was spared that, they provide the night’s highlight. Singer Lias Saudi is a wiry, menacing presence, and from the slow-burning opener Auto Neutron to the feedback blow-out of Bomb Disneyland, theirs is a set filled with a sense of danger. Their blend of punk rock and psych teeters on a knife’s edge that threatens to disintegrate into chaos at any moment.
Headliners Palma Violets trade in post-Libertines indie-rock, with bassist Chilli Jesson, and guitarist Samuel Thomas Fryer sharing frontmen duties.
Jesson is an engaging performer, and the tunes are passable enough, but while the die-hard fans dutifully lapped it up, the crowd noticeably thinned during their performance.
And when they finish their set and the house lights come up immediately after the last song, it feels more like the night has ended with a whimper than a bang.