The Boxer Rebellion at Oslo Hackney
Tuesday night has never sounded so good! English-American band Boxer Rebellion have returned to the city that brought them together and treated fellow Londoners to some big, new sounds at Oslo Hackney as part of their international tour that finishes up back in London at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on the 7th December. Having just released their new album Ocean by Ocean at the end of last month, they will no doubt have a flood of new fans desperate to see them. After 15 years of keeping their heads just below the surface of fame and recognition, it’s hard to tell if they realise this.
The band’s new approach on this album is appealing on all kinds of levels: the dark, hypnotic waves of third track Keep Me Close rolled over the audience, the echoing vocals filling the sold-out venue front-to-back, and kicked off the evening perfectly. Although perhaps the bold sound deserved a slightly bigger venue, the guys definitely proved they have earned comparisons to bands such as The Verve and The National. The atmosphere was intimate and organic – no bouncing about or shouting for the audience’s participation – instead, The Boxer Rebellion stood layered behind a wall of smoke and colour and focused on performing the music to the highest standard they could achieve. And it really paid off.
A swaying, bopping and sometimes emotional journey through old and new music kept the audience surprised and satisfied, each intro to the next song eliciting excited whooping from a different group of the fans. The highlight of the evening came in the form of Nathan Nicholson’s beautiful, wavering vocals through New York and Big Ideas. There was a warmth in the room, an understanding that seeing a band as respected and quietly accomplished as The Boxer Rebellion in the small upstairs setting of a Hackney bar is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often.
As the concert came to an end, the lyrics of The Gospel of Goro Adachi aptly summarised the night: “Blinding lights began to set fire to our minds”. Through the smoke and the lights, the performance was quite simply inspired.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about The Boxer Rebellion and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Big Ideas here: