Nick Oliveri / Prosperina / Welcome The Howling Tones / Yeti Love [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 3/6/14]
Last night, I left this show in an ambulance. Now, given Nick Oliveri’s reputation as a hellraising rock demon, you’d be forgiven for jumping to conclusions here – but the truth is a lot less rock ‘n’ roll than whatever you’re thinking right now. More on that later. Before we get into why my exit was so dramatic, and of course how immense this show was, you need to know a little bit about the state of grassroots live music in the UK today.
Indie venues like the Boileroom provide an essential cultural service to the local area. They provide a haven for alternative music, art, culture, mindsets, and people; precisely the kind of things that have moved humanity forward since the dawn of time. The team behind the Boileroom are, without exception, legends – and far more laid-back and mild-mannered than you’d perhaps expect to be the case. The acts that pass through the Boileroom range from grassroots bands who’re just starting out to (as was the case here) globally respected rock stars; nobody gets left out, as long as they’re prepared to bring their A-game when it comes to showtime. To music fans and bands of all stripes, the Boileroom is indispensable.
Sadly, not everybody sees things this way. The Boileroom has survived many attacks over the years – physical, political, and psychological. That story is too long to go into here; suffice it to say that the Boileroom has its share of enemies. And as a small indie venue, the Boileroom has much in common with others who have already fallen, or exist under threat themselves. In Brighton (a liberally-minded town if there ever was one) the Blind Tiger Club was forced to close its doors after a single person moved into a flat above the stage and started complaining about the noise. The Blind Tiger’s story seems like something out of a comedy sketch, until you really think about it. In a super-slick, Photoshopped-to-death world where cookie cutter culture still holds plenty of power, the loss of a venue dedicated to going against the grain while remaining socially responsible is truly tragic. And the Boileroom is also under threat from (some – not all) local residents.
This is why I’m pointing out that when those blue flashing lights stopped outside an alternative music venue, the ambulance was for me. It’s why I’m pointing out that a few Daily Mail-subscribing local residents probably rushed to their computers to work out which devil-worshipping heathen was playing that night so the could add the incident to a list of reasons why the Boileroom “should” be shut down. It’s why I’m stating, right now, that an evening of stripped-down acoustic rock didn’t land me in A&E. And it’s why I’m stating that I’ve always felt safe at the Boileroom – because however scary and evil that place may seem to the simple-minded, it is a safe place to go.
That’s not something I can say for a lot of mainstream-oriented places, by the way.
Anyway, on with the review. The evening’s entertainment was provided by:
I didn’t know this band’s name when they were playing, but I love them all the more now. I only caught their final tune, but it was badass, plain and simple. Think a folky version of A Perfect Circle with solid instrumental skills, mandolin melodies (which are always welcome in my ears), and granitelike grooves. Seriously awesome; hopefully I’ll get the chance to see these guys again soon.
Welcome The Howling Tones
A really impressive showing here. The Howling Tones play deep-rooted blues so thick and earthy that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been buried alive for the duration of their set. Gutsy vocals, minimalist drums, ass-tight riffage that translates fantastically to an acoustic format, and the occasional delivery of sexy and strutting classic rock vibes all won plenty of hearts and minds over to The Howling Tones’ down-to-the-soil cause.
Including, of course, mine.
At this point, I started feeling really fucking ill. Then, my increasingly under-pressure brain and body started playing tricks on me. For a couple of songs I genuinely thought that Prosperina’s frontman was Nick Oliveri, and believed that his ‘solo acoustic’ format had been abandoned altogether. I did eventually realise (after a confused conversation with a fellow punter) that I was wrong, and promptly felt like a total prat.
More A Perfect Circle vibes permeated Prosperina’s tunes – and as a long-time fan of APC, I loved it all instantly. Lush, epic, and stunning songcraft was the order of the half-hour-or-so here, and checking out these guys playing an electric set is now on my bucket list.
By the time Nick Oliveri got on stage and launched into his extensive repertoire, aided by plenty of crowd members singing along and even yelling some of the friendliest heckles I’ve ever heard (“HOW ARE YOU, NICK?!”), I was struggling to concentrate on anything other than the pains in my gut. Still, I did stick it out long enough to hear immense versions of classic tunes such as You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire, and Gonna Leave You. But in the end, my need for medical attention won out.
Ready for the full story? Ok. I left Nick Oliveri’s show with stabbing pains in my abdomen, reciting my medical history to a partially-deaf paramedic, on my way to be told (several hours later, by a pissed-off-looking surgeon) that I was constipated. Yes – I missed most of the most anticipated show to pass through Guildford in fucking forever because my guts were too crammed with crap to function properly.
I am, in all senses of the word, gutted. All I can do now is sit and write these words under the influence of heavy-duty painkillers, and think that if I drank the whole bottle of laxatives that that same surgeon handed to me before rolling his eyes and walking away, it would be a hell of a party.
Big love as always to the Boileroom team for making sure I was ok, and Will and Olly for the usual exceptional sound.
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