Tall Ships / Northsee / Ornament Tournaments [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 19/6/14]

tall ships boileroomLet’s be honest here – when it comes to the football, England never learns. 1966 was a long time ago – almost half a century ago, actually. Football is the beautiful game…as long as Spain are playing. Or Brazil. Or Italy. Or…well, anyone but us.

The crowd at this gig had the right idea. Although the venue took a while to fill, fill it did – and just in case anyone spent the show glued to their Facebook feeds for the duration of the show, The Boileroom had the England v Uruguay game streaming on one wall. Spoiler alert: The bands were better than the game.

Said bands were:

Ornament Tournaments

I really like these guys, but if I don my harsh-but-fair critic’s hat for a moment, I have to admit that something seemed a bit off during this set. It was pretty much impossible to target a root cause (maybe the dire footballing, but it was still early minutes at the time), but I got the impression that Ornament Tournaments were being more reserved than they wanted to be. Musically, I really enjoyed it – plenty of sharp-edged indie-math riffs and some moments of pure, unadulterated awesomeness – but there was a lot of uncertainty going on onstage. I hate saying stuff like this, but at times it seemed more like watching a band in a practice room than onstage. It’s harsh, but unfortunately accurate.

But still, there was the music. Plenty of promise and an obvious sense of hard compositional work were the elements that won me over here. It just seems, to my eyes, that more time needs to be spent in the practice room, and then onstage; by that point Ornament Tournaments should be a real force to be reckoned with.


These guys were fun to watch. Graceful, synth-lined art rock filled with ’80s swagger and self-assurance and a light sprinkling of self-conscious melancholy. Some liberally but tastefully applied effects, some in-jokes with the crowd, and England went down one-nil.

Nobody watched. To be fair, it was like seeing a toothless bulldog being kicked to death.

At times Northsee resurrect the spirit of The Human League; at others, their performance veers closer to the realm of performance art. Either way, you couldn’t help but get sucked in – especially when the alternative was…well…just so damn awful.

Tall Ships

When I go out to review gigs, I rarely listen to the bands I’m going to see before leaving. I love the feeling of experiencing a band live before hearing them another way. At least, I love it as long as they’re good.

Here’s an understatement for you: Tall Ships are good.

For a band who’ve been away from the live scene for some time, Tall Ships were seriously on it here. Their fans were, too – clapping and singing along, even waving smartphones in the air like lighters with HD cameras and Angry Birds – and the whole Boileroom suddenly felt like an indoor summer festival for all too short a time. Wave after wave of epic tunes flowed from the stage, until we reached a song dedicated to Wayne Rooney (“…this is about getting old. Fucking hell…”) and a short speech about The Boileroom’s neighbours threatening the legendary venue with closure (more on that below).

By the time the whole thing was ended, the atmosphere was a heady mix of brimming-over emotions. The thing is, nights like this – where people are able to go out and share a passion in a single room, together, and just chill out and have some fun, with a screen going ignored in the corner – aren’t just nice little happenings to be taken for granted. Thanks to a tiny, tiny minority, independent music venues across the UK find themselves under threat of closure on a regular basis. If you’re passionate about live music and the people who make it possible (and you must be, given that you’re reading this!), then:

1) Click here to sign The Boileroom’s anti-closure petition,

2) Click here to find out how else you can get involved;

3) Follow The Boileroom and The Musical Melting Pot on Twitter for updates.

Thanks to The Boileroom team for hosting another epic evening.

And thanks to you for reading.


Tall Ships official website.

Northsee do not currently have an online presence, as far as I can see; leave a comment if they do.

Ornament Tournaments on Facebook.

The Boileroom official website.

Follow TMMP on Twitter for more awesome music! If you’re a regular reader, thanks for the support! Don’t stop, and keep going!

Posted on 20 June 2014

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