There are three very disparate types of live shows when it comes to quality, the outstanding, such as the Prince’s and Pulp’s of the world who set out to make a live show truly special, those downright awful performers, those much-loved acts you’d rather bury the frustrating memories of, and those that can only be described as ordinary. Somewhat fortunately and unfortunately, London-based quartet The Boxer Rebellion firmly nestle themselves into the latter category.
All aspects of the shows continues to prove this, resulting in an all round feeling of the unexceptional. The rapport, average. The support, average. The lights, average. The vocals, average. The crowd response, average. For a group that have been progressively chasing an arena sized sound, especially evident on new record Promises, they embody everything about the ‘just like the record’ approach to playing live. As performers, they’re extremely restricted, only employing momentary handclaps and tepid onstage banter.
Playing their first show back in the UK in 2014, The Brook sees moments that do shift close to the outstanding, when not plagued by technical issues anyway. With a setlist that is both dictated by Promises, and stretches all the way back to their debut Exists, highlights are provided in certain songs, like ‘New York’, which begins tenderly with a lone Nathan Nicholson at a keyboard, before at trio of drums turn the song into something far more raw and rhythmic, while ‘The Runner’ and ‘Diamonds’ easily enthralled due to how anthemic their choruses are. However, the closing moments are when the band finally become enticing, as ‘The Gospel of Goro Adachi’ erupts into an intense crescendo of effects. Weirdly the band expertly understands how to leave you wanting more, despite allowing the mind to wonder during the middle portions of the set.
Essentially the experience of seeing The Boxer Rebellion live isn’t something to cultivate fond memories of, neither are they an act to cringe when thinking back to. They may be the epitome of average, but who said all bands had to be worth getting excited about in the live setting?