The Boo Radleys
The Moth Club, London
30th October 2021
Phil Ross ventures out into the cold, silver air in search of The Boo Radleys before they head home.
There’s something about tonight, not just that it’s getting colder. I’m startled by falling bodies, spattered in blood and cheap makeup, clad in latex and faux gothic, and hurriedly scamper the short distance from Hackney Central to the final gig of the first Boo Radleys tour in twenty-four years. Hands chilled to the bone, thrust deep into the pockets of my anorak, I watch my breath mingle with that of the security man as he directs me to a discrete entrance.
For the last six or so years, The Moth Club has occupied an Ex-Servicemens Club, retaining all the original wood panelling, adorned with plaques, portraits and coats of arms. Resplendent with an aged-formica bar and accompanying PVC banquette-seating booths around the hall, the club’s pièce de la résistance is a full-height gold glitter curtain that adorns the back of the stage. Simply wonderful.
The lights go down and the band push their way through the packed crowd, brushing past us as we applaud. They open with the ever-fresh euphoria of Barney And Me, and into the wonderfully cascading intro chords of Find The Answer Within which breaks down beautifully for us all to sing along ‘I was sitting with the band’.
The Boos are lush and bright, guitars chopping, jangly and distorted with big spaces in all the right places. The Cieka and Brown rhythm section is clean and acoustic, almost vintage and punctuated by melodic McCartney-esque runs, and it strikes me how expansive and enduring the influence of The Beatles continues to be.
The youthful Simon ‘Sice’ Rowbottom’s vocal is sparkling and the three-part harmonies are precise. The sum of the parts is complete with the big horn, wind and keyboard sounds – which confuses me because I can’t see any keyboard player. The puzzle is solved when Sice introduces fifth band member ‘Kev’, a rack of digital effects nestling next to Rob Cieka.
It’s been a well-planned exercise with a recently released EP – A Full Syringe And Memories of You, stacks of merchandise goodies and a forthcoming album Keep On Falling, which is due out next year. Needless to say, the new material is showcased and sandwiched with classic Boos and stands up well on first listening.
Missing from the action and recipient of the penultimate dedication from the self-effacing Sice is Martin Carr, the band’s primary songwriter. Invited but sadly missed with the door always open seems to be what the band feel, and I’m sure Boos fans across the World would agree with that sentiment. I certainly do. Naturally, the evening ends with the ageless and effervescent Wake Up complete with adorable acapella intro, and I head off, back past the military heritage paraphernalia of the Moth Club and out to the cold, silver air and the packed tube to Brixton.
The journey south is an ordeal. Harangued by drunks, ghosts and ghoulies I can take, but FFS since when was a Supermario outfit ever a Halloween costume? The second I get home I call out “Alexa play Barney And Me by The Boo Radleys” and in the few minutes it takes the kettle to boil I realise I’m getting older and I still can’t find the words. As I reach into the cupboard for the tea bags it clicks – excitement. There was excitement in the air tonight. I was excited. And then it dawns on me, I’ve left my Boo Radleys mug on the train. Damn.
The new album Keep on with Falling is released on 11th March 2022
To keep in touch visit: Boo Radleys Facebook
Photo by Matt Shaw
Words by Phil Ross – more writing by Phil can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive.