30th October 2021, support from Alice Pisano
I’ve waited over 20 years for this gig! I was too young in the 90’s to go to gigs on my own and with seriously uncool parents the Britpop era came and went without me seeing a single live band.
Thankfully the last 10 years has seen many of these bands reform albeit with slightly amended line ups and I’ve been lucky enough to see most of the bands I’d missed the first time round. Yet the band I longed to see the most, The Boo Radley’s for the most part seemed to have disappeared from the radar. Martin Carr was doing solo stuff I could never quite get into and the rest of the band had slipped into a ‘normal’ 9 to 5 lifestyle, until 2019 when Sice announced he would be performing a Solo set at the Shiiiine On Weekender in Minehead. Of course I went and the set was amazing but it just wasn’t like seeing the full band in their own headline show. After this Sice once again disappeared back into the abyss until earlier this year when what I’d waited all these years for finally became a reality! New music from the full band (less Carr) and a headline tour, I tried to talk myself out of going saying it was a lot of effort, expense and it was in a part of London I didn’t really know….who was I kidding? I knew I had to, I’d waited so long for this!
Now onto the gig! The MOTH Club is situated right by Hackney Central so even someone with my poor sense of direction couldn’t get lost. The venue is a recently resurrected Ex Servicemen's club that from the outside looks fairly nondescript and almost reminiscent of an old brewery building. Inside it's tiny with a small bar and several cozy seating booths. The stage itself is small, looking almost cramped with the large variety of instruments and pedals adorning it. Looking at the stage I was left perplexed as to where the band were going to emerge from as there didn’t appear to be any real backstage area and even if there was, navigating the stage without tripping over seemed impossible. All became clear as support act Alice Pisano walked from the bar, through the fairly sizable crowd and onto the stage.
From the moment Alice stepped foot on stage I was impressed, her humble, stage presence and captivating voice made her mesmerising to watch. Musically reminiscent of the earlier 2000’s insurgency of female vocalists such as Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, Alice’s sound is raw and her lyrics heartfelt and thoughtful. I could feel every word she sang and her slightly raspy voice fit beautifully with her acoustic guitar. Although I’d never heard these songs before something felt familiar, almost comforting, and the addition of a cover of Travis’s “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” was a nice way to work the crowd up into a bit of a sing song.
Often watching a support act is just a means to an end to get a good spot at the front for the headliner but sometimes watching the support can result in finding a real gem and Alice is that, she is one very talented lady and I hope she goes far in her career.
After a quick trip to the bar for a £5.20 pint of very mediocre cider (the joy of London prices), it was time to squeeze my way into a perfect spot, and it could not have been more perfect, right at the front in the very center!
Finally it was time, the moment I’d waited so long for. Some pretty music that I probably should have recognised but didn't played and the band walked through the crowd to the stage each minding not to trip over all the clutter adorning it. Whilst Sice isn't quite the 20 something year old my teenage self had a bit of a crush on, overall the years had not been too unkind to any of them although it was fairly obvious Martin Carr’s replacement was vastly younger than the rest of the band. The thing that struck me most and stayed with me the entire gig was Sice’s pure enthusiasm and contagious smile. I could feel the pure joy of being back on stage emanating from him and I found myself smiling every time he did.
They blasted through classics Find the Answer Within and From the Bench at Belvidere with such ease and professionalism not like a band who had had a 20 something year hiatus. Some of the Britpop bands I’ve seen during their second coming have not faired so well, often struggling to even sing in tune! Songs such as Kingsize choked me up, not only because lyrically they're beautiful but because the emotion of seeing this band live after so long at times felt a bit too intense. The new songs all sounded incredible, something I was concerned about owing to the fact Carr had formerly been their main lyricist but singles A Full Syringe, Memories of You and I’ve Had Enough I’m Out sounded every bit as at home on the set list as the ones from the 90’s. In between songs the band interacted and joked with the crowd often laughing about aging, Sice at one point stating he had had to put notes on the set list to remember his dedications then proceeding to forget his own wife!
Something I was slightly disappointed by was the crowd. Granted I didn't expect jumping up and down but I thought people might have taken this as an opportunity to let their hair down and have a bit of a dance, I desperately wanted to put my arms up but upon looking round saw everyone just gently tapping their thigh and thought better of it!
All too soon and ending on the incredible Lazarus the set was over. Sice addressed the crowd stating this is the point where they should go off. We would all shout more and they'd come back out but the dressing rooms were upstairs, they were old and couldn't be bothered so we had to pretend! The first song of the encore was another new one All Along which like all the others was excellent, then it was time the moment every casual fan, who’d just come along for something to do had been waiting for WAKE UP BOO! The room came alive, I looked around and everyone was dancing and singing their hearts out. Finally! This was my cue to join in the fun! The band clearly loved playing this and were buzzing from the crowds reaction to it. It was a phenomenal end to an incredible night, well worth the years I had waited. Several days on it's safe to say I am still buzzing!
New album “Keep on with Falling” is out March 11th 2022, so I’m hoping for another tour, rest assured I’ll be going!
Barney (...and Me)
Find the Answer Within
I've Had Enough I'm Out
You And Me
Wish I Was Skinny
From the Bench at Belvidere
I Say a Lot of Things
Everything Is Sorrow
A Full Syringe and Memories of You
The Finest Kiss
Wake Up Boo!