Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Boxer Rebellion @ The Sugarmill 10th June 2011

Review by Sian Eardley

Imagine you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to plummet and looking for just one thing to hold you back. Imagine you’ve just been handed your first newborn baby…These feelings, these
rushes of emotion and adrenaline are all produced and cumulated by the sounds of The Boxer Rebellion.

Yes, they may just happen to be my favourite band on the entire planet, but to counter my bias, I simply have to remember why I first fell n love with them, and seeing them live tonight, it was always going to be clear why. I’ve been to every performance of theirs at The Sugarmill, stretching all the way back to 2004 when they headlined and Editors were support, and I know for a fact that everyone who would have been introduced to them for the first time tonight would be utterly bewitched by them. The most beautifully flowing guitar melodies come from Todd Howe, Nate’s Tennessee twang makes love to his hushed poetic lyrics and all the while, the prominent bass and roaring drum beats celebrate the early material of The Verve/TCTC; the very finest in alternative
indie and perfect for the size of Stoke Sugarmill.

Even with a new sound engineer in the mix tonight (who happened to do a stellar job by the way), the set was lush. They opened with ‘Step Out of the Car’, the first release off their recent third
album (‘The Cold still’), and grinding indie-grunge number which gets you right into the rhythm and a ‘tapping on the dancefloor. We saw equilibrium with ‘Organ Song’, ‘Both Sides Are Even’ and ‘No Harm’, which are all amazing as finding ‘the one’ in your life. ‘Cowboys and Engines’, a song striking at the media, made a welcome appearance from their debut album ‘Exits’ and sounded as bolshie as ever. ‘Evacuate’ is just fucking brilliant to be blunt. It’s everything you could want from a song: catchy, ballsy, and just fantastically strung together that you’ll be screaming the chorus and kicking yourselves for not being into these guys sooner! The track was cleverly placed mid-set to show that they continue to reach such tremendous heights, similarly found with ‘The Runner’,
their latest single release. I can’t help but fall in love with the lyrics, and it’s Verve (ish) feel, making you proud to witness, believe and be part of the greatest music around today. ‘Goro Adachi’, as featured on the soundtrack for the BBC’s ‘Long Way Down’ was an enchanting close to their set, whilst as always, in every performance, in any part of the country I’ve seen them play it, 'Watermelon’ is the corker of the whole performance. Any of you who have never heard of it, download it now, it’s free from, so no excuses. On record it’s sexy, sultry, impacting and
loud, but it’s done a million times more justice live, as you get the intended ‘mmmph!’ behind every cord and vocal, which frontman Nathan Nicholson took advantage of by leaping into the crowd with his mic and really gave it some.

As both a fan and a music lover, it was superb to see them back at one of their old haunts seven years later. They’ve had a fascinating music journey, and through their ups and downs, their triumphs and struggles, not once have they ever stopped waving the flag for Britain’s freshest and most talented indie music. I also got a surge of pride having seen them along their path, I mean they even starred alongside Drew Barrymore last year in ‘Going the Distance’ (good tekkers), to which people were requesting they played ‘If You Run’ from the OST which they especially recorded. This, like the rest of their repertoire, is a stunner, and they promised to play it upon their next return to Stoke: just don’t leave it another 5 years!

And on another note, a big round of applause is needed for The Fears who were the local support act tonight, and they really pulled out all the stops, in terms of warming the crowd up, and delivering the best local music at the moment. Their vivacity, content and consistency really is to be commended.

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