By The Rivers / The Brompton Mix / Birdsworth [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 17/4/14]
After several weeks of heart-op-enforced inactivity, I needed a good night out to celebrate my return to the real world. This gig provided everything I required within a few short hours.
These guys play “gravy bass” – and although I’m not sure what that means, it is clear that when it comes to Birdsworth’s music, the bass is the star of the show. Although Birdsworth got off to a slow start, they still managed to get properly grooving by their second song, sounding to my ears like the British answer to every old-school New York skate video soundtrack ever. That is a very good thing.
Birdsworth’s songs are very well-crafted; I spotted a tasty Audioslave-esque bit of riffage during a heavier section as well as some very awesome soloing, and by the end of Birdsworth’s set the crowd were literally screaming for more. I also spotted some man-on-man dancing mid-set, although I’m not sure that one of said men was aware it was happening. All of these factors prove Birdsworth’s ability to connect with a crowd through the most direct means possible – the music – and keep them so enthralled that so many people demanded that they stay.
However, there are a couple of constructively intended critical points to make. Before Birdsworth got up to speed their playing was a little uncertain – an issue that will of course be resolved with more gigs and more experience. This show obviously boosted their confidence, and rightly so, thereby making them more likely to jump in and win from the first note (as By The Rivers did in style later on). The second guitarist also needs to face the front of the stage (and the audience), something that’s very easily fixable. And finally, I noticed that Birdsworth were at their most passionate when performing a cover (something required of each band playing last night), and although they kept up that same level of energy for the rest of their set, it had been lacking from their earlier songs.
And, again, this is a confidence thing – Birdsworth need to believe in their songs and themselves, and not be concerned about showing it. As it stands, however, this is a great and massively entertaining band with a wicked bassist, great tunes, tons of potential for future improvement and success, who’ve just played a set that left everyone in the place begging for more. Keep your eye on Birdsworth; they’re going to go very very far indeed.
The Brompton Mix
Five words to describe The Brompton Mix: Loudest Band Of The Night. These guys play no-nonsense, straight ahead, bullshit-free, heads down, full tilt, high energy rock ‘n’ roll. The key phrase amongst all those clichés is high energy (bold text fully required) – these guys were sweating by their second song and didn’t stop walking the line between not giving a fuck and tight, professional stagecraft for the duration of their entire set.
The Brompton Mix just don’t give their audience a choice; if you’re in the room when they’re on, you are going to be fully present and paying attention. Want to tell your mate how great they are? You’ll have to wait until after they’re done. With plenty of Queens Of The Stone Age stoner-rock vibes, an unexpected flair for reggae (during their obligatory cover; as I’m not really familiar with reggae I have no idea what it was called), a bassist capable of breaking his low E string, and a quick run through of Hendrix’s Foxy Lady as an encore, The Brompton Mix delivered more than any real rock fan could ever ask for. Energy, attitude, balls and swagger. Too cool for words, except for all the ones I just used.
If The Brompton Mix gave me tinnitus, I’d forgive them in an instant.
By The Rivers
By the time the headliners got on stage, the Boileroom was packed. The Easter Weekend began right there, and after taking the stage, By The Rivers were on it from note one. I’m going to say this right now: By The Rivers are the best live band of their kind that I’ve personally witnessed since The Cat Empire at Brixton Academy. They just make it impossible for you to not get involved; you have to move, to groove, and to have fun. Which is what life is all about…right?
Bassist Matt Willars upped the bar here; although Birdsworth and The Brompton Mix both boast great bass players, this guy is something else, a true reggae groove machine. Make Your Own Road is even more incredible live than on record; there’s nothing quite like having live bass passing through your torso while you listen to a recently-discovered favourite song.
Really, By The Rivers just win at music. Their sax player is my favourite horn-blower since this guy; Vulture packed a real punch, as did the passionately delivered Take Control; and By The Rivers’ set could perhaps be most accurately summed up by the words of the guy standing next to me: “Das ist qualität!”
Overall, to get a real sense of what it’s like to see By The Rivers live, check out their album via this link and imagine hearing it performed flawlessly while being surrounded by likeminded people all having a great time, with bass in your guts and a drink in your hand. This night was so full of win that it was almost indecent, and By The Rivers topped it all off in style.
As ever, big love to the Boileroom crew and, this time around, promoters ModernisM for an incredible evening.
By The Rivers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bytherivers
The Brompton Mix on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebromptonmix
Birdsworth on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebirdsworth
ModernisM on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreModernism
The Boileroom on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theboileroom
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