The Boxer Rebellion


It’s Sunday, the 1st of May and summer is basically here; or at least I’d like to think so. Bank Holiday Monday to follow, what better reason to catch a gig at one of my favourite spots in Manchester: The Deaf Institute. A lovely, intimate hall, decorated with the most alluring wallpaper, spattered with various birds, almost dancing, illuminated in the dim blue and red lighting. The atmosphere was amplified by the humongous disco ball dangling supremely above, spreading light and charm throughout the venue. I got the pleasure of bringing my girlfriend to our first gig together, and who better to see than the electrifying band, The Boxer Rebellion.

The Boxer Rebellion, originated in London in 2001, consisting of its four members. The frontman, Nathan Nicholson from Tennessee, formed the band after moving to London only a year previously. Very impressively, my girlfriend guessed he was from Tennessee, purely from his accent! His desire to be fully immersed into the British post-rock, Britpop music scene, led to the bands inception. They take influence from and reflect the sounds of bands like Radiohead, The Verve, and more recently from the likes of The National and The Temper Trap. The American’s smooth and effortless voice, with its beautifully delicate tone, gives the band its signature melancholic sound. The lead guitarist, Andrew Smith, gives the energy, skill and flare that invigorate the performance and the crowd. Adam Harrison, the bass and keyboard player, gives a cool and collected performance, whilst the drummer, Piers Hewitt, sat at the back with the authority to give a firm anchor to this mesmerising band.

The group has recently gone back on tour to promote their new album, Ocean by Ocean. Having not listened to the album before the show, my anticipation was quenched with some utterly glorious new tunes. “Big Ideas”, being one of the newly released singles, was incredible to hear live for the first time. Such a beautifully relatable track, stirring the yearning and aspiration we all feel to fulfil our potential, for ourselves and our loved ones. “Keep Me Close”, with Nathan’s stunning falsetto voice over the top of echoey electronic guitar, swept through the consciousness of the hall. Ocean by Ocean, is a truly distinguished album, with a perfect array of new era indie rock anthems such as, “Let’s Disappear” and “Firework”, and stunning, pensive tracks such as “Pull Yourself Together”.

Whilst we indulged in the new album, it was such a treat to hear some of their classic songs. They played “New York”, where Adam and Andrew put down their bass and guitar respectively, to grab the additional percussion, whilst Nathan moved onto the keyboard. The energy with which they smashed down on the drums, led to my imitation of the same! They also played “Always”, another one of my favourites and whilst I prefer the acoustic version, it didn’t disappoint. The closing tracks included “Diamonds” and “No Harm”. Being the two songs that rather personify The Boxer Rebellion for me, I couldn’t have been more content.