Nothing But Thieves / Passport To Stockholm / Andy Ruddy [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 21/7/14]
A really enjoyable acoustic-driven set showcasing plenty of great and engaging songs. Peaceful, serene, lush, and spacious new tunes hinted at serious future promise. Overall, a great start to the night.
On the constructively critical side, Andy Ruddy and his band seemed a bit nervous, despite really having no reason to be. A couple of songs suffered from nerves, although it didn’t affect the set as a whole. The punters loved what these guys do, and so did I – and the thing is, audiences are usually on a band’s side while watching them play, even if they don’t necessarily seem that way from the stage! Having reviewed more sets than I can remember (and witnessed thousands more), I can safely say this: most reasons for stage fright are illusory. If an audience member really doesn’t like you, they’ll leave – but if they’re sticking around, you’re not doing as badly as you think!
Hopefully, these words can help bolster Andy Ruddy’s confidence. With a little more self belief, he’s going to go far.
Passport To Stockholm
This isn’t a slight against the other members of Passport To Stockholm, but I have to take my hat off to their percussionist. He laid down some of the most inventive grooves I’ve heard in a while, and it was seriously impressive stuff.
My favourite aspect of Passport To Stockholm’s set, percussion aside, was their approach to dynamics. Each song comprised a miniature emotional journey, with peaks, troughs, valleys, hills, and so on. You just can’t help but get lost in their songs, and feel disappointed when it all ends.
Additionally, Passport To Stockholm’s vocalist is both talented and humble – a winning combination. Their cellist was sight-reading, and nailed it. Their guitarist is an absolute master of loops, using a bit of digital trickery to thicken up his sound without overwhelming the rest of the band. And the overall effect is truly astounding.
Passport To Stockholm are a must-see band. Check out their social media links below to find out how to see them live ASAP. You need to do it.
Nothing But Thieves
Imagine Gary Numan with Matt Bellamy’s voice taking Adam Levine’s place in Maroon 5. I don’t know about you, but that makes me pretty excited. Nothing But Thieves, then, are a fucking exciting band on paper alone.
In practice, it works perfectly. Although Nothing But Thieves took a few songs to hit their stride, once they were there it was absolutely awe-inspiring. Pitch-perfect vocals, plenty of onstage smiles, stunning songs (stunning songs) executed with swaggering confidence – whatever you look for in a live act, Nothing But Thieves have it in abundance.
The only points for improvement: The bass was too loud, and overwhelmed some pretty slippery-looking guitar solos, and the songs often trailed off at the end. I’m not sure what caused the bass issue, but having a punchy one-hit ending to each of the songs (or other ending structures within which all the band members work together rather than moving in separate directions) would give them that much more impact.
Those points, however, are nothing major; I could still have watched this set over and over again and never have been bored. That, in itself, is a real achievement. It’s not surprising that Nothing But Thieves have gotten as far as they have – they’re a brilliant band set only for even greater success.
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