Live Review: DMA'S at Northumbria Institute

Tom Hardwick heads down to the DMA's, here's what went down...

Tom Hardwick
17th May 2018
Image: Tom Hardwick

DMA’s, hailing from Sydney, were a few gigs into an extensive world tour to promote their new album For Now when they arrived at Northumbria Student’s Union. There was no hint of jetlag as they stormed through a set that reminded everyone in the room just why they are being lauded as a band with a very exciting future ahead of them.

PLANET, who also originate from Sydney, seemed to have been carefully chosen as the support band given that they sound rather similar to DMA’s themselves. Their similarities were embraced by the quite healthy crowd who had made it down early to see them, who seemed to believe that you can never have too much of a good thing. Their latest single ‘Save.Sold’ was especially enjoyable, with its soft opening few seconds deceiving me into thinking that it would be a somewhat serene song. Instead, it unfolded into something that was energetic but also melancholic, showcasing the impressive vocals of the frontman who reminded me at times of Liam Gallagher, Kurt Cobain and Tommy O’Dell in terms of his sound throughout the set. PLANET definitely have the potential to follow DMA’s as a popular import from Australia, with their set in Newcastle certainly endearing themselves to a new set of fans and perhaps paving the way for a return in the future.

[pullquote]DMA's whipped the crowd into a frenzy with 'Feels Like 37'[/pullquote]

DMA’s started their set with ‘Feels Like 37’, whipping the crowd into a frenzy that had the foundations of the room shaking in a way that might have worried anyone who was downstairs at that point. One of the things that makes DMA’s so enjoyable to listen to is the balance between the more powerful and dynamic electric guitar of Matt Mason and the laid-back acoustic sounds played by Johnny Took.  ‘For Now’ is driven by distorted sounding chords and riffs from Mason that give it a heavy sound and emphasise just why DMA’s are often hailed as Britpop revivalists. However, tracks such as ‘Warsaw’ and ‘Melbourne’ seem to be more reliant on the acoustic rather than electric guitar. They still maintain upbeat and energetic tones, but at the same time they are the kind of summery, relaxing songs that you might listen to when you want to chill in the sun with a drink.

‘Step Up The Morphine’, ‘Emily Whyte’ and ‘Delete’ provide a refrain for the bouncing crowd, with these stripped back songs being perhaps the most profound in the entire set, placing all the emphasis on Tommy O’Dell and his voice. Earlier songs such as ‘For Now’ and ‘Break Me’ are sung with the attitude and vigour you might expect from Tommy’s Britpop predecessors, but the aforementioned tracks exemplify his flexibility. His voice is simultaneously soft and powerful, and it is this that exacerbates the emotive aspects of these three songs and gives them a real sense of gravity, leaving it nearly impossible to not join the crowd in singing along.

Having allowed things to calm down, the band left the stage to allow the anticipation in the room to build back up before exploding into an encore that included ‘Play It Out’ and ‘Lay Down’. Both were real outbursts of energy and passion, amalgamating the frenetic acoustic guitar of Johnny with the drifting chords and rousing solos from Mason to great effect. These last songs had the room moving to the extent that it might have registered on the Richter Scale, and the magnitude of DMA’s performance as a whole cannot be understated. The songs that everyone already knew received brilliant receptions, and many of the songs from the new album seem set to cement themselves as fan favourites. The way in which they move between sounds is astonishing to think that only a few years ago they were a self-confessed ‘bedroom band’, and if they can sell out 1000-2000 capacity venues in Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds already despite coming from the opposite end of the world, then things can only get bigger and better for DMA’s.

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