The Boxer Rebellion at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Veterans of an understated 15-year career that has seen them steadily build a loyal following, The Boxer Rebellion bring a finely tuned live show to Shepherd’s Bush Empire for their final gig of 2016, the culmination of a busy year of international touring.
Appropriately for a band that’s seeped into the public consciousness more through their inclusion on movie, TV, and video game soundtracks than breakthrough chart success, opening numbers Let It Go and Big Ideas combine to establish an atmospheric mood that remains in place throughout the 90-minute set. With the influence of more famous noughties indie acts such as Coldplay and Biffy Clyro immediately apparent in the woozy waves of echoing melodies and sweetly pealing harmonic guitar that singer Nathan Nicholson’s falsetto soars over, there’s a comfortable familiarity to The Boxer Rebellion’s sound. This accessibility does perhaps come at the expense of much in the way of sonic variety. The unilateral MOR tone seems to keep the not-quite-sell-out crowd in a quietly contemplative state for a while before they fully warm up.
It’s not until eight or nine songs in that the audience’s attention seems to be firmly grasped, when Nicholson and guitarist Andrew Smith step down from the stage to offer an acoustic version of Always. A cut from the band’s latest LP Ocean by Ocean, which, on the record, is carried along on a wave of crashing drums, works surprisingly well in this altogether more gentle form, and the singer’s ghostly, yearning vocal fills the room.
Flight ostensibly closes the set with chunky (punky even) guitars and as raucous a chorus as is heard all night, before an encore ending with The Gospel of Goro Adachi re-establishes the dream-like pop soundscape. A warm appreciative ovation greets the show’s end, but the lack of a ruffled hairdo among the crowd as they shuffle away is a clue as to the compelling yet lightweight nature of performance they have witnessed.
Photos: Guifre de Peray
For further information about The Boxer Rebellion and future events visit here.
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