Live review: The Boxer Rebellion, Cherri Fosphate at SWG3, 13/2/14

_MG_1335Cherri Fosphate’s studio releases are in no way indicative – nor do they qualm the unknowing gap of preparatory anticipation – of capturing the bands’ energy and prowess as a live unit.

Without negating the quality of their EP, Burning Youth, or single, ‘Pretend’, – live they come across as more of a body-hugging, vicissitudinously, stop-gap-induced post-rock outfit, battling through their set with a physically unrestrained and engulfed surge of evangelical robustness.

Like a finished canvas – merely being a tangible product linking the subjective mind of the artistic being with that of the viewer – the songs are created in a chiasmic realm, fuelled with a rejuvenated dynamism, intangibly arbitrated with an injection of rawness, inflamed with extra layers of reverb and distortion invoking an incendiary assault of syncopated – yet; contained anarchy.

Live performances can fall short on many a band – exposing open wound vulnerabilities – being a cruel and bitter exposition of the studio acting as a tourniquet.

However, revealing a less clean-cut version of their tracks, and playing such a brutally tight performance– just goes to show that it’s the sweetness of fruitlet abscission that provides the ultimate payoff.

One may be slightly unnerved at the prospect of a band of such caliber such as The Boxer Rebellion performing in an, acoustically dubious, low-ceilinged venue usually reserved for water-bottled-red-striped-amateur raves and other capsule-consuming, mandible-exercising events that haphazardly take place at the SWG3.

But perhaps a little more investigative journalism (Google searching), may offer a fulfilling enough explanation to this mired conundrum.

It boils down to the DIY approach – after a small stint with Alan McGee’s’ record label, The Boxer Rebellion have pretty much taken to releasing most albums through their own label – taking care of all managerial aspects including public relations and concert bookings incurring monetary and fan accumulation through the facilitation of their musical universality – licensing of their music to big American TV shows (including but not limited to One Tree Hill, Greys Anatomy, Vampire Diaries and Going the Distance).

The venue is a somewhat a random affair – a fitting location for Stephen Norrington back in ‘98 – minus the sprinklers, but a relaxed Nathan Nicholson and co. kick-out the cockroach-infested-jamborees’ and unduly venture straight into one of the most upbeat songs ‘Runner’ from 2011s The Cold Still, showcasing what the band are all about; jauntingly-paced hard-hitting rhythms; epically soaring guitars soaked in copious baths of delay, and emphatically heartfelt vocal melodies – subconsciously anthemic in nature.

Their first time back in Glasgow – and their first UK tour for over two years. There is a fresh and vibrant dynamic present that was lost among the melancholic-molasses-soaked territory that the band found themselves wedged between last time round and the packed venue soaks it up, with ad hoc extras displaying an exercise in a passion-infused adornment of musical prowess and receptivity.

Testament to the meticulously infinitesimal extras – including an interchanging multitude of instruments, subtle samples provided on cue by drummer Piers Hewitt; there is no holding back or cutting of corners in tonight’s performance.

Highlights come from the bands’ latest album Promises, with material from the latest album encompassing the quadrilateral establishment in a cinematic soundscape of voraciously shoegazing sound waves.


A particular standout performance is the beautifully mesmerizing percussion-heavy ‘New York’, with both bass player and guitarist ditching chief duties in favour of a pair of sticks and an assortment of toms and snare drums, which results in a no-holds-barred, three-man drum assault, perfectly contrasted with Nicholson’s melodic vocal sensibilities and a beautifully crafted chord progression on the piano.

This is preceded by a two-man drum assault with the guitarist back on duties for ‘Safe House’ – truly remarkable stuff.

‘Always’ and ‘Keep Moving’ have a similar sound and ambience to early My Vitriol material, but with contemporaneous and opportunistic colourings that scream out ‘single material’.

The prototypically induced screams and chants when ‘Diamonds’ starts, are vehemently suggestive of a unanimously uncatagorical agreement that it is quite possibly one of the best tracks The Boxer Rebellion have written to date.

Also, tracks from the first album hit the right note including ‘We Have This Place Surrounded’ and ‘Watermelons’ from EXITS, however these tracks are testament to how much the band have came on since their inception as they sound more constrained and coaxed – there is a forceful element to them that hints at a suggestibility in meeting certain expectations.

Promises is a more upbeat album, and there is a far more comfortable execution in the performance of the latest tracks.

Elementary they are somewhat faster-paced, more upbeat, and more hi-fi sounding exuding a far more experimental ethos.

The finished the set with ‘Dream’, which consumes the crowd with its blisteringly riotous wall of noise, incrementally building in levels and distortion culminating in a massively emotive climax pulling at the heartstrings of the Glasgow crowd.

The band provided all the elements that made for an emotional journey with a mix of old and new – with fans leaving and embracing a cold, chilly Glasgow night.

There is a sense of fulfilment emanating from the loyal fanbase, which looks set to keep growing.

More photos

Words: Derek Robertson
Photos Jayjay Robertson


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