The Nightmares And Friends – UK Headline Tour*

The Nightmares And Friends – UK Headline Tour*

31st March 2024 0 By Gavin Griffiths

Back in October, this reviewer was fortunate enough to witness the triumphant return of KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES, as they rolled back the years for a sold-out hometown show at Cardiff’s Great Hall. As good as they were (Or still are, to be honest) it was that night’s support band that really caught my eye; THE NIGHTMARES. The Newport-based four-piece (Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Adam Parslow, Eleanor Coburn on vocals/keys, bassist Benjamin T. Mainwaring and drummer James Mattock) who were promoting their latest record “Seance”, really entertained the early crowd with their moody blend of up-beat alt. rock and heartfelt emo-pop, and they certainly intrigued me. 

Fast forward a couple of months, and The Nightmares found themselves on a five-date headline tour of their own, spending a week travelling up and down the UK, culminating in a final night at Newport’s iconic Le Pub, on Saturday 23rd of March. A night out in Newport sounded like a simple plan…until they announced additional one-off supports for each date that is. One night out suddenly became two, as we took a little bit of a detour. And by detour, I mean a 116-mile, three-hour detour to Birmingham on Thursday the 21st, just to catch the exclusive opening act DEATH OF ME [9] 


It’s been a while since I’d been to Birmingham, and so having gotten off the coach, paid 30p for the privilege of having a piss, navigated my way through the Chinese Quarter, and gotten to my hotel room which was no bigger than a disabled toilet (I honestly felt like Harry Potter living under the stairs. No window and requiring doing a three-point turn just to get out of bed was not fun, but I digress) it was good to catch up with front-man Jim Carter and the lads. Using the smaller upstairs room of the venue, it was an intimate little set-up, but being a cold weekday evening the venue still felt a little sparse. The early punters however were treated to a wonderful set by the Staffordshire rockers, and they wasted no time getting into the swing of things with “Your Heart, The Casket”.  

With its atmospheric intro and melodious nature, the track flows wonderfully with Jim’s sweet vocal harmonies and it’s got a great chorus hook, and as it builds, it becomes more and more of a genuine foot-tapper as you get sucked into it. Fleeting, crunching guitars break up the track nicely and it’s a great opener. The band surprised me then with “Cry”, which they dedicated to me on the night, (Thank you Jim) and it’s an absolute honor. With the smoothest of vocals, coupled with some wonderfully new romantic synth-driven rock, they also channel the likes of THE USED, delivering one of the catchiest songs you’ll ever hear, with its rock-oriented pop stylistics, and this is faultless. That’s not even biased. 

Their set is brief, but they do promote their debut album “Hell’s Where You Make It, Love’s How You Fake It” with the singles “True Blue” and “Halo”, and it’s just a bloody brilliant time. Blue is a representation of sadness, but there’s nothing sad about this as once again they deliver another fine dose of emo-tinged melodic rock, as we bust a lung singing along, before the latter takes things up a notch with some assertive drumming and a sublime sense of swagger. This is a band that deserves recognition on a bigger scale, and I don’t just WANT, I EXPECT to see them achieve all of the bigger and better things going forward. Side note, I wanted to support the band by purchasing a CD and shirt…the price? Well, Jim being such a nice guy, declined actual money, and so I paid with a round of Corona’s for the band. What a wholesome bloke he is. Cheers, Jim! The other two bands I’m seeing in Newport as originally planned…so we’ll fast-forward to Saturday. 


Le Pub is a wonderful little independent venue situated in the heart of Newport Center, slightly bigger than Birmingham’s venue, and we’re sold out so we’re looking forward to a fantastic homecoming tonight. The early crowd here is treated to tonight’s exclusive support TERRAPINS [6] who honestly deliver a solid set. Their blend of heavier, punk-infused rock ‘n’ roll is a change of pace from what I’ve seen of the tour personally, but it’s certainly not unwelcome. The trio brings the angst and the riffs in abundance while retaining a real sense of rhythm and upbeat energy, leaving the early punters no choice but to headbang out of appreciative instinct.  

Tracks like “Brainz” are infectious and while they are a little stiff on stage, they deliver the goods. Except for the drummer. Good god the drummer is a madman. Looking like WWE’s Hillbilly Jim in his denim dungarees with long shaggy hair, he could be Animal from The Muppets in a live-action movie, going for gold, breaking multiple drumsticks during their brief set. He doesn’t just discard them though, oh no, he yeets them into the crowd, one of which got a sweet kidney shot on this reviewer, and I was half expecting to piss blood the following morning! I jest. Again, brief but sonically a nice deviation from the overall vibe.


The tours main support comes from MOTH SLUT [7] and it’s time to get our Goth on for this nostalgic, Manchester-based darkwave duo. Performing with a backing track, the two guitarists are positively maniacal, as they writhe and bounce their way around the entirety of their stage, with an almost sinister joviality. Recent singles like “Forever, Again blend classical indie-esque post-punk guitar tones with a darker, underlying synth driven core, sounding straight out of the 80’s and it’s fantastic.” Hellhound” doubles-down on the synth aesthetics for the track’s primary melody, while the deep drawl and echoing of the vocals gives off a certain, ritualistic, Halloween party vibe. “Parabellum” on the other hand is like…if you can imagine BLOC PARTY thinking, fuck it, and dabbled in post-punk, but it works! All in all, a lively performance, and it’s good to see fresh bands keeping post-punk and proto-Goth alive and well. 


Finally, then, it was time for THE NIGHTMARES [9] who are relishing this hometown headline show. They captivated audiences on tours with Kids In Glass Houses as previously mentioned, as well as alt. rock darlings CREEPER, so it’s about time they had their own time to shine, and under the crimson glow of their stage lighting, they deliver a solid set of modern emo anthems, to the thirstiest of crowds. They use that much red lighting I could probably develop photo’s I’m not going to lie, but it’s not an issue. 

Opening up with “It Follows”, they soon get the crowd moving as the synthetic drones quickly shift to a barrage of riffs and percussion, leading into a slab of up-tempo melancholic beauty. The crowd is in full voice here from the word go, and the energy is electric. “Pink And Grey” wonderfully blends synth-pop with acoustic indie elements and it brings with it a quaint little sing-along, while “From Above”, which has recently been given the remix treatment courtesy of the latest 4-track EP, gets one of the biggest receptions of the night. No weary heads to be seen here, everyone in attendance is fully invested in this set, and the chorus sing-along is impeccable. My personal favorite “Heartless” highlights the bands’ penchant for melodic misery in the tenderest of ways, being one of the most satisfyingly sad songs in recent memory. The saxophone on “Evermore” is simply seductive, while early cuts like “Half Awake” entertain their long-time fans with more solemn, synth-driven brilliance.  

The Nightmares have been gearing up for this show tonight, and to call it anything less than triumphant would be a disservice. Despite their limited back catalog, being a relatively fresh band of a couple of years, they prove tonight that they have a firm fan base, and the tunes to carry themselves forward with ease. Blending pop hooks, with light-goth / emo romantic lyricism and catchy instrumentation, they can effortlessly accomplish so much in the UK and beyond. Dark and seductive enough to be unique and niche, accessible enough to garner genuinely earned mainstream appreciation, The Nightmares have all that it takes to succeed, and their follow-up album, whenever it appears, is going to be highly anticipated. As the set, and subsequentially the tour ends, while I finish the last of my White Russians, and tonight’s crowd makes their way home to bed, I hope you had nightmares, as these should be stuck in your head for a long time. It follows, after all… 

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