Live Review: Boston Manor, Microwave, Drug Church & Wallflower - Electric Ballroom, London 22/09/2018
It’s been three weeks since the Blackpool boys in Boston Manor released their sophomore album ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’, and the response from it has been nothing but amazing for the band. Since then, they’ve hit the road to embark on their UK tour with amazing supports from Microwave, Drug Church and Wallflower. We caught the crew in London at The Electric Ballroom for the bands biggest headliner to date, playing to a room of around a thousand people – which is always something I admire from bands that have come from the pop punk scene, which typically consists of much smaller shows.
First up on stage was Wallflower, who are definitely a band to look out for over the next year. Whilst currently not having a full length release under their belts, they still certainly pack a punch and have a unique sound that is sure to bring them far within the industry. With tense vocals that subdue in some songs, mixed with the crashing melodies they produce, will keep you on your toes and leave you wanting more. After recently releasing their first single since last year titled ‘Magnifier’, the band played this alongside currently unreleased tracks and older tracks, including those from EP ‘Where It Fell Apart’. The turnout at this point was already pretty outstanding for the first support of the night and their music was well received by the crowd. It seemed as though not only existing fans got into the music, but also people who might have never heard of them until this point.
Drug Church were second on stage, bringing huge amounts of energy and a distinctive stage presence. Yet another band to get into if you haven’t already. The night was just talent after talent, with each band bringing their own uniqueness and character to the stage. I don’t think there was a single moment where the bands guitarist wasn’t banging his head back and forth, and the lead singer was constantly delivering a range of facial expressions whilst he sang and danced about. This aggressive hardcore punk band were signed to No Sleep Records back in 2012 and have come on leaps and bounds since then, with two-full length albums currently released, and their third due to be released early November this year. After playing a mix of new and older tracks, the band really had the crowd going insane as they filled them with excitement and delivered a few jokes here and there displaying the personality of the band a little more. They come across as a band that don’t take themselves too seriously and just have fun doing what they love.
Microwave were the final support act of the night and by this point, the audience had grew a reasonable amount and the anticipation for Boston Manor was built high. Microwave made a perfect fit for the final lead up to the headliner with plenty of snappy songs to hit the stage with. With all of the bands of the night having a similar angsty sound, Microwave gave their own personal take on this angst with popular songs such as ‘Drown’, ‘Dull’ and ‘Work It Out’. Fans across the room were shouting lyrics as far as the room stretched and many were crowd surfing and throwing themselves around. Boston Manor really outdid themselves with their line up of supports for this tour and each and every band fitted the sound and style of Boston Manor perfectly, whilst still making sure the musical styles were somewhat varied throughout the night.
As Boston Manor hit the stage, it became flooded with red lights to match the bands aesthetic that comes with their latest album release. Opening with ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’ which is also the first single on the album, this was instantly a crowd pleaser and is a song that sets the tone exceptionally well. It builds in anticipation with strong beats that build up throughout the song and leave you wanting more. This lead into newer songs really well, leading into ‘Flowers In Your Dustbin’ which is packed with energy and anger and subtle poppy instrumentals during the chorus.
But of course they couldn’t abandon what brought them their current following. The still delivered some classics that fans adore such as ‘Lead Feet’ and ‘Burn You Up’ from their first full length album ‘Be Nothing’. And don’t let the size of the room let you believe they’re just going to stay on stage. No, vocalist Henry wasn’t having any of this. Jumping off the stage and over the barrier, he had the crowd hold him up by his docs and sang along with them, really proving that it doesn’t matter where you play; if you want to create an intimate and interactive gig, you most certainly can.
What filled the night with possibly the most excitement was extreme oldie from the ‘Saudade’ EP – ‘Trapped Nerve’. Before playing this three year old release, they took a minute to thank the crowd and spoke about how they started out. They were just a couple of friends in Blackpool that realised there wasn’t much going on. When playing gigs, they decided to come down to London and play the Black Heart just across the road from the Electric Ballroom. To go from a tiny little pub to this 1,500 cap venue really appeared to humble the band and shows just how much work they have put in over the last few years. Bringing their own sound to the pop punk scene has really helped the band to achieve great things and it felt so well deserved to see them have a room filled with people jamming to the songs they’ve produced over the last few years.
Words and Photography by Hayley Fearnley