Welcome The Howling Tones / The Greasy Slicks / Psyche / Ben Longman [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 10/7/14]
If you were to walk into The Boileroom today, you wouldn’t be able to tell that said widely loved and respected venue is currently under threat of closure from a couple of local residents. The staff and management are nothing if not professional, and last night’s show – the result of a collaboration between The Boileroom, promoters Noise Theory, and local music school ACM – went off without any externally obvious hitches. The evening’s entertainment was provided by:
When faced with a sparsely populated room, an act’s true personality really comes out. Some will whine and moan, turn in a stroppy half-attempt at a performance, and practically run offstage when their time is up. Ben Longman, on the other hand, is a true professional.
Ben Longman’s set consisted of graceful, lilting folk played with equal parts elegance and deeply felt passion. This guy is obviously ambitious, making his friendly and humorously self-deprecating between-song banter all the more welcome. New song Steady As The Riverbed was a personal highlight, along with a poignant set-closing tune about the ever-present and widely ignored dangers of alcoholism.
Overall, a great start to the evening. If you’re heading to a show and know Ben Longman is going to be opening, get there early!
Brought down all the way from Glasgow by ACM’s Business School head honcho Ewan Grant, Psyche’s attitude-laden blues rock was the perfect stepping stone between Ben Longman and The Greasy Slicks. Dirty, nasty, and boasting a bassist wielding an instrument that looks like a weapon from Star Trek, Psyche have one foot in the past and the other firmly in the future. Their music would fit perfectly into the soundtrack of a Tarantino movie; I could imagine a guy cutting another guy’s ear off to a Psyche song, although thankfully that didn’t actually happen during their set.
Overall: These guys may have been going for some three decades, but they’re still able to show the kids how it’s done.
The Greasy Slicks
I’d never seen The Greasy Slicks live before last night, but I recognised their frontman and bassist from their session work with TMMP favourites Princess Slayer. The Greasy Slicks sit about as far from slick, heavily produced EDM as it’s possible to get without discarding electric instruments altogether, making their mastery over the earthy and organic world of blues rock all the more impressive. If there’s a word that sums The Greasy Slicks up, it is definitely “masterful”.
Think John Mayer pushed a little heavier than usual, and you more or less have it. Spectacular musicianship, spellbinding soloing, a few nods in the direction of modern rock, solid and confident stage presence, an obvious display of hard work and pure passion, a stage soaked in dry ice, and stop-on-a-dime dynamic shifts all earned deservedly rapturous applause. In places, The Greasy Slicks were as heavy as the coach that tried to run me off the road on the drive home; in others they were as fragile as your sanity would be if you stayed awake for four days after draining a bottle of absinthe.
Welcome The Howling Tones
I have to say that The Greasy Slicks stole the show last night – but that does nothing to take away from Welcome The Howling Tones’ own performance. These guys know their shit. I previously saw them play an acoustic set while supporting Nick Oliveri at the Boileroom, and was blown away. Tonight was no different.
These guys are so feral and earthy that they must woodshed in actual woodsheds. Whether eliciting fat, chunky tones from their instruments, combining snakelike basslines with violent wah soloing, or just metaphorically punching their audience about the head with explosive, no-nonsense riffing, Welcome The Howling Tones do it all with panache and indisputable authenticity. Their final tune got battered to within an inch of its life – and then it was all, sadly, over.
Calls from an encore were denied, probably due to The Boileroom’s current neighbour issues. Once that’s sorted out, I hope Welcome The Howling Tones get to come back and play as much as they damn well please. When it happens, I’ll be there.
Kudos to The Boileroom, Noise Theory, ACM, and Ewan Grant for putting on an awesome show. Don’t stop, and keep going!
Psyche, sadly, don’t seem to have an online presence. If they do, please leave the URL in the comments.
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