We Are Scientists, The Boileroom

@wearescientists / Instagram

Every great party needs a great soundtrack.

And during the mid-noughties, We Are Scientists were THAT band.

Following the success of 2005 LP With Love And Squalor, New York City’s indie also-rans were on every self-respecting night club playlist and on shuffle at every great student house party.

Even if you somehow managed to avoid their charms, there was no escaping tracks like Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and The Great Escape.

More than 10 years hence and not a whole lot has changed, albeit those soaring heights the band once enjoyed are perhaps not what they were.

Trading academies for clubs, We Are Scientists earlier this year announced a mammoth UK tour in support of sixth album Helter Seltzer.

And after traversing the country from Glasgow to Gloucester, finishing up in Barrow-in-Furness of all places next month, Keith Murray and co rocked up at a sold-out Boileroom in Guildford on Sunday night.

With his now trademark silver fringe still very much intact, singer and guitarist Murray, who still inexplicably looks about 15, along with bassist Chris Cain and drummer Keith Carne bound onto the venue’s cosy stage just after 8.30pm (it is Sunday, after all).

Both apt and somewhat ironic, opening number This Scene Is Dead sets the tone for the night – while the band tread some new ground, this tour is a celebration of their heyday.

The crowd, packed with 20-somethings, greet them warmly, as you would an old friend you’ve not seen in a while.


“Can you all just be silent please,” jokes Murray after the band’s uncharacteristically quiet and somewhat inauspicious opener has someone behind the scenes reaching for the volume knob.

Sound levels fixed, the trio dip liberally into With Love during their hour-long set, which is also peppered with highlights from six LPs spanning nearly 15 years, including two cuts creamed from Helter Seltzer.

Nobody Move has The Boileroom pulsing and mid-way through the set, Murray hands over his guitar to guest Joel Dilla and conducts the crowd from the barrier.

Only then does he ease himself into the throng for a walkabout.


Always with an ace up their sleeves, We Are Scientists marvel in being able to control the tempo of their set in a stroke.

Slower songs are juxtaposed against the band’s more jangly moments while their stage patter is second to none. They even stop to play with their effects pedals for a bit, just because.

The Great Escape, another stonewall mid-noughties earworm, rounds out the band’s main set heralding perhaps the most enthusiastic response of the night. Shapes are thrown.

“I’ve got a great idea! I’ve got to wait right here!” bellows Murray, his every word echoed by The Boileroom faithful who bellow them straight back.

Nice Guys and After Hours bring proceedings to a close. Respects are paid, hands are grasped in the front row, emotions run high. This has been a really special night for a whole lot of people.

Is this scene dead? Probably. Do the memories live on? Definitely. We Are Scientists will always occupy a special place in the hearts of a generation of indie kids.

Sunday’s Boileroom show and the band’s huge UK tour serves only to affirm it.

James Chapple

Originally published on Get Surrey, 19/10/16

BoomTown Fair 2016


A little adventure, 11/08/16 to 14/08/16.

My second year at BoomTown (year one ici), made all the sweeter by the fact, A. I was/am covering it, and B. I didn’t have my wallet nicked on the first night.

Musical highlights; Ozric Tentacles, Les Yeux D’la Tête, Craig Charles, The Destroyers, The Orb, The Correspondents, Alfresco Disco, Leftfield.

Honourable mention to the amazing rockabilly band we saw on some tiny little outdoor stage in Chinatown who totally blew us away in the 15 minutes we were there. Just wish I could remember their name…

Other highlights; Losing the plot while throwing some shapes at Robotika, Tribe of Frog and before the amazing Bang Hai Palace, meeting and getting a random polaroid with George the Festival Horse (with a special shout out to the chap who gave me his pair of kaleidoscopic glasses which utterly changed my life during Leftfield’s set), seeing justice dispensed in Wild West, and just because he was so good he deserves mentioning twice; CRAIG CHARLES. I mean, he even did a mash up of Man of Constant Sorrow. ‘Dat Rockt.

Anyhoo, here are just a few of the best pics I took during the weekend. I’m no photographer, but I was chuffed with a few of these.












Remember when the Arctic Monkeys came along and ‘saved’ guitar music back in 2005?

No, me neither. In fact, I don’t recall there being a time, certainly in the early 00s, when it was ever in need of a saviour, especially after it allegedly was ‘saved’ only a few years earlier by The Libertines.

I distinctly recall going to my Nan’s after school twice a week (she had Sky) and watching a seemingly endless conveyor belt of great guitar bands come and go.

Kinesis, Hell Is For Heroes, Nine Black Alps, Brand New, Yourcodenameis:Milo, Serafin, Cave In, Amplifier, Oceansize, The Datsuns, InMe, Grand Volume, Idlewild, Million Dead, Slaves To Gravity, The Music, Death From Above 1979, Pure Reason Revolution, Zico Chain, Secret Machines, Sucioperro, The Vines. To name but a few of my favourites.

Hell, I’ll even chuck bands like Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Interpol, Editors, The Strokes, Kings Of Leon and The Sunshine Underground in the mix too, at the more commercially acceptable end of the spectrum in that ‘alt-indie’ grey area.

These were halcyon times. Two hours of MTV2 followed by Gonzo, before Zane Lowe became an insufferable sycophant, skivving off school of an afternoon to skim through albums I had literally no money for at Martian Records in Taunton (sadly now gone). I saw Million Dead perform an acoustic set there once. Oh what happened to you Frank Turner?

But with the benefit of hindsight, you’d be forgiven for thinking the guitar, at least in mainstream circles, had been outlawed until Doherty, Barât, Turner and co got their mitts on one.

For all the column inches devoted to the Arctic Monkeys, they expertly rode the crest of an extremely popular wave, fuelled by the growth of social media. Their transition from My Space to Twitter and Facebook came at precisely the right time. Suddenly, they commanded an audience unlike any before – one (literally) at their fingertips. It’s hard to overstate the effect social media had on music at that time. It was seismic.

Sadly, for all those acts that came before though, they created a scene that was doomed, not to failure, but to obscurity.

There were flashes. Get Free by The Vines was massive. So was Take The Long Road by The Music and Gloria by Brand New.

I recall reading NME around that time too, blithely waxing and waning as popular opinion shifted. That said, had it not been for NME (even in spite of its endless Libertines cover features), I would never have discovered just about my favourite band of all time – Amplifier. It’s remarkable in retrospect they even got the half column they did in some end of year ‘riff round-up’. The song was The Consultancy if you were wondering. Go listen to it. It sounds like a guitar turning itself inside out.

Nostalgia’s an unhealthy obsession, especially when you’re still only in your mid-20s, but hearing Crushed Like Fruit by InMe will always transport me back to my Nan’s living room.

Actually, guitar music is still going great guns right now. 10 years later, the mantle has been assumed by Arcane Roots, Baroness, Marmozets, Battles, Black Peaks, Brontide, Future Of The Left, Drenge, Wolf Alice, Foals, Royal Blood, Vennart, Pulled Apart By Horses, Tame Impala, Turbowolf. Go. Listen. Devour.

Here are nine great songs from a sadly forgotten era:

Kinesis – This Dead End (2003)
Unmistakably influenced by Matt Bellamy of Muse’s guitar histrionics, This Dead End is over-the-top in every way, from the absolutely filthy distortion on the guitars to the ridiculous solo and enormous chorus.

Idlewild – A Modern Way Of Letting Go (2002)
Two and a half minutes of sheer unrelenting fury, propelled by a riff that could splice through universes. Very much a song to listen to first thing in the morning.

The Music – The Dance (2002)
The Dance sets the tone for The Music’s self-titled debut. Swirling, psychedelic waves of guitar build and build and build into rhythmic motifs thanks to one of the tightest rhythm sections you’ll ever hear. Oh, and the ending is somewhere approaching what I’d expect the end of the world to sound like.

InMe – Underdose (2003)
Another band clearly influenced by Origin-era Muse, Underdose is built around a simple riff that is as jaunty as it is buccaneering, while a then teenage Dave McPherson switches effortlessly from his impossibly deep teenage roar to cut-glass falsetto.

Secret Machines – First Wave Intact (2004)
I saw Secret Machines on a boat in Bristol. They closed with this track. A 10-minute twisted mélange of blues, rock and roll and psychedelia. For a song with just one distinct beat or groove, 10 minutes has never felt so short. We couldn’t stop idly strumming that very beat for weeks.

Cave In – Anchor (2003)
Like the aforementioned A Modern Way Of Letting Go by Idlewild, Anchor is a three-minute relentless assault on the senses. There is no break, no let up, no flab. Just a barely contained wall of noise with a chorus to die for.

Nine Black Alps – Not Everyone (2005)
It had to be this or Ironside. Not Everyone though features Nine Black Alps singer Sam Forrest at his most ferocious. With more than a nod to Nirvana, Not Everyone channels the angst of every 20-something outcast.

Amplifier – The Consultancy (2004)
This is by no means my favourite Amplifier song – but it is the song that perhaps had the greatest impact on my taste in music at the time. I was a huge Muse fan back then (when they were at their peak) but The Consultancy was the first song I heard around that time that gave me the same thrill as when I first heard the riff in New Born. It was just SO big.

Oceansize – Catalyst (2003)
Again, by no means my favourite Oceansize song. However, when those squally wails of guitar give way to that interlocking riff (which pans left to right if you listen to it on headphones) and finally explodes into another cataclysmic riff, Catalyst becomes simply mesmerising.

And another six from right now:

Marmozets – Born Young And Free
Arcane Roots – Energy Is Never Lost, Just Redirected
Wolf Alice – You’re A Germ
Black Peaks – Set In Stone
Drenge – Running Wild
Brontide – Knives

Band of Skulls, The Boileroom

Jake Darling
Jake Darling

“This is the start of a new era,” says Band of Skulls frontman Russell Marsden.

It’s Thursday night at The Boileroom and Guildford’s getting loose. It feels like a Friday – this is going to be good.

Up on stage though, things are far from loose. Band of Skulls’ mercilessly tight grooves mingle with all the ferocity of Queens Of The Stone Age yet the simplicity of AC/DC.

Notes are never spare, stray or squandered, beats are as prickly as they punchy – “on point”, one might say.

It’s all the more remarkable then this is the very first night of Band of Skulls’ “new era”.

LP4 “By Default” drops on May 27 and tonight’s typically intimate, sweaty show at The Boileroom is, unsurprisingly, a sell-out.

This is a band both used to, and destined to continue, selling out considerably bigger venues, a band for whom critical acclaim was never lavished, but hard-earned – and richly deserved.

“We’re going to try and play as much as we can for you guys,” chimes Marsden, a broad smile on his face, only partially masked by his immaculately straight brown hair.

Jake Darling
Jake Darling

The band, completed by bassist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward, visibly itch to cut straight to the new material they’re clearly so eager to share. They waste no time in doing so.

Title track of sorts, In Love by Default, builds slowly but logically from small flecks of reverb-soaked guitar to a thunderous, wailing refrain driven by Richardson’s yelps of “Yeah, Yeah, YEAH!”, The Boileroom all the while bathed in stark blue light.

Album opener Black Magic, by comparison, is a gloriously straight-forward affair, a bruising stomper and bona fide fan favourite in the making.

This is gutsy blues fare, picking up from where the likes of The Black Keys lost their way and Tame Impala deviated.

In total, the band air seven of By Default’s 12 tracks. The songs are rough, ready and raw, not yet weary from months on the road. Perhaps the most immediate of them is Killer, the first official release from By Default.

It’s a dirty number, propelled by Marsden and Richardson’s interlocking fretwork and a vitriolic chorus of “Killer, Killer, KILLER!”.

The crowd have done their homework though; they holler every word straight back at the band. One punter, meanwhile, repeatedly asks Richardson to marry him – he gets a smile and a raised fist in his direction.

Old favourites punctuate the band’s hour-long set. Ikwia gives Marsden a chance to show off his chops while Sweet Sour brings to mind Angus Young in all his schoolboy pomp.

Jake Darling
Jake Darling

2014’s “Himalayan” is represented by its eponymous title track and the gonzo Hoochie Coochie, an oh-so brief flashback to Wolfmother’s cocksure schtick.

Vocal duties flit between Marsden and Richardson, save for those rare moments when they come together in effortless harmony – to great effect.

Light of the Morning and Diamonds and Pearls bring the band’s main set to a ringing crescendo, the latter complete with one brave crowd surfer writhing atop the seething melée on the floor, steadying himself with a reassuring hand on the ceiling.

As ever, The Boileroom’s “encore problem” is as quaint and endearing as it is bemusing, if only because it makes such delightful mockery of the ludicrous idea an encore in 2016 is any more spontaneous than it is an expectation.

“We’d normally head out for a half [pint] and a fag,” quips Marsden. “But, you know, there’s no way out – so we’ll just play a couple more.”

First up is the aforementioned Killer, but the absolutely bonkers Asleep at the Wheel is a more fitting finale, its frequent and dramatic changes of tempo serving only to further accentuate Marsden’s bellowed refrain of “Cause where we are going is anyone’s guess!”.

With one final flurry of riffs, the trio are done. Marsden strides to the front of the stage and presses himself up against the barrier, proffering his guitar to the audience in recognition of their spirit.

One can only hope it has been as memorable a return for the band as it has been a welcome one for their flock.

James Chapple

Photos by Jake Darling.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 29/04/16.

The Stranglers, G Live (again)


Ahhh, The Stranglers – Guildford’s very own men in black are back for another trip down memory lane at G Live.

In fact, it’s their fifth March gig in five years at G Live – and it kind of shows, just a little.

Tonight, after a turn by tour mates The Alarm, we’re treated to the band’s 1978 album Black and White in its entirety.

Never ones for airs and graces, it’s 45 minutes until Stranglers frontman Baz Warne so much as goes near the mic between numbers.

“If you were a bit confused by that, you didn’t buy the f*****g album in 1978, did you?” he sneers in a broad, Mackem yammer.

Turning to JJ Burnel, bassist and RGS old boy, Warne adds: “He [Burnel] says you’re a bit less constipated tonight.”

It’s the closest thing this crowd are going to get to a compliment tonight.


The music’s as good as ever though. Raw, raucous and simmering with the same righteous anger that so defined the band during the late-70s.

Tank’s driving chords, manic keys and yelps of “I can drive [drive!] my very own tank!” segue effortlessly into the brilliantly grotty Nice N’ Sleazy, propelled by one of Burnel’s signature bass riffs.

It’s undoubtedly a treat for devotees, but it comes at a price. The first half of the show, illuminated only in monochrome, just feels a little flat.

The bonkers Norfolk Coast and gnarly Lose Control get things back on track, followed up by a boisterous rendition of Always The Sun, heralding the first singalong of note of the evening.

And it’s to the band’s credit the momentum only builds further, closing out the main set with I Feel Like A Wog and the anthemic Something Better Change, which feels as relevant now as it did in 1977.


There’s no Jet Black tonight, the band’s septuagenarian drummer and founder member above whose offie in Guildford the band formed in the 70s – and whom they welcomed back for a few numbers during last year’s show at G Live.

Equally conspicuous by their absence are a handful of the band’s best known songs, namely Duchess, Hanging Around and Golden Brown.

The biggest cheer of the night though is reserved for encore opener Peaches. It’s a filthy tune, underpinned by another one of Burnel’s masterful squally basslines and Warne’s sleazy snarls.

There’s just time for No More Heroes and that’s it. It’s another typically brash, brusque and belligerent Stranglers performance.

But it’s hard not to feel this annual pilgrimage may just have lost its way a little – and that the band’s hometown faithful deserved a little bit more than they got.

James Chapple

Originally published on Get Surrey, 15/03/16

Farewell Starman


There really is a starman waiting in the sky now.

David Bowie died on Sunday aged 69. He had cancer.

The news was broken on Monday morning on Bowie’s official Facebook page and confirmed by his son Duncan on Twitter.

Already, hundreds of thousands have paid their respects. Millions more around the world will continue to do so in their own way.

Flowers have been laid outside Bowie’s old apartment in Berlin; outside his home in New York; there is even a street party planned tonight just a few hundreds yards away from where Bowie grew up in Brixton.

It comes just days after his 69th birthday, on which he released his 27th studio album Blackstar, and a fortnight after we lost another rock and roll legend – Lemmy – to cancer.

Wishing absolutely no disservice to Lemmy, Bowie was more than just a rock and roll legend. Bowie was simply without parallel.

He wasn’t just ahead of his time throughout his near 50-year career, he was effortlessly ahead of his time. He was utterly unique.

Even on Blackstar, which is every bit the mysterious, challenging, thought-provoking listen you would expect from Bowie, he was still pursuing what was zeitgeist.

Taking the title track alone, the shuffling, skittish, tribal beat is evocative of Thom Yorke; the tension wrought by the fusion of gnarled samples and swirling synths of Burial and Portishead; the otherworldly lyrics of Bowie himself on Space Oddity.

The point being Bowie’s music never suffered from not being of its time. You can hear its wax and wane as the 60s psychedelia flowed into the 70s pomp, via prog and glam, 80s new wave, dance and disco, 90s alternative rock and industrial before eventually winding up somewhere distinctly avant-garde.

It’s hardly surprising when you’ve dabbled in just about everything that could be considered ‘popular music’. And I am by no means a qualified enough Bowie fan to take you through his experiments with jazz and classical music.

I write this listening to Aladdin Sane. I don’t know why I picked Aladdin Sane. I could just as easily have chosen Ziggy Stardust, or Hunky Dory, or The Man Who Sold The World.

There is something chillingly discordant about the chorus, if you can call it that, of Aladdin Sane itself. It makes my hairs stand on end. I consider myself lucky there are probably 20 Bowie albums I still have a lifetime to digest.

Bowie was the soundtrack to many a formative summer holiday – still is in fact.

I was lucky enough to enjoy 20 years of long, hot, sultry summer days in France listening to Queen Bitch, Starman, Ziggy Stardust, The Bewlay Brothers, Changes, and so on.

Like my other great passion, food, music is evocative of memories and emotions I am otherwise unable to access any other way, particularly those associated with childhood. I’m sure many others feel the same.

That’s why I have very much enjoyed digesting other people’s experiences of Bowie. The Guardian, in particular, has done a terrific job today of curating a necessary ourpouring of collective grief and mourning.

Each and every one of these stories is special to just a handful of people, many just to individuals. Scale that for the hundreds of millions of people Bowie’s music has touched across the world and you begin to understand the enormity of his contribution to music and popular culture.

His long-time collaborator and producer Tony Visconti said this today, which I feel is a particularly fitting tribute.

“His death was no different from his life – a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be.

I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”

David Bowie was as much a cultural phenomenon as he was an enigma, and he remained so right to the very end. I have little doubt had he lived another 20 years we would be any the wiser.

Time takes another cigarette.


Get Surrey
Get Surrey

Lemmy died on Tuesday.

Everyone was pretty shocked. Cancer’s a bastard though – it’ll cut anyone down in a stroke, even the world’s hardest rock star.

People paid their respects to Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister with all the usual platitudes. I recall ‘RIP Lemmy’ trending on Twitter for a while. Well, if there’s one thing Lemmy’s definitely NOT going to doing in death, it’s ‘resting in peace’.

This is a man who drank a bottle of JD every day since the age of 30, a man who smoked like a top, a man who slept with thousands of women, a man who sung on his biggest hit:

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools, but that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

In fact, a man who – legend has it – had actually already died a few times, only to repel Beelzebub’s advances and cling onto this mortal coil. Probably chased him off with his bitchin’ Rickenbacker bass guitar.

Yes, Lemmy will be raising hell in an afterlife of his choosing. I’m quite sure of that.

He found fame with his vocal on Hawkwind’s 1972 classic Silver Machine, only to be kicked out of the band a few years later for his drug habits. It was a blessing in disguise.

Lemmy founded Motörhead in 1975, who went on to become one of the most enduring rock and roll bands of all time.

It was a pretty simple formula – distort everything; growl over the top of it; look really REALLY cool on stage, in interviews, on telly, etc. And then keep doing it for 35 years.

I saw Motörhead back in 2006 supporting the Foo Fighters and I swear my ears are still ringing from the experience. They even teamed up with Dave Grohl and co for a rendition of Probot’s Shake Your Blood. It was gnarly.

And in a bizarre feat of billing, Motörhead brought untold hedonism to clean-cut Guildford institution GuilFest (RIP) back in 2009 (retrospective penned in the wake of Lemmy’s passing by yours truly).

While I can’t profess to being a Motörhead afficionado (their ‘best of’ is quite enough for me), Lemmy was emblematic of a rock and roll ethos, spirit, mystique – call it what you will – that simply does not exist any more. One that likely dies with him.

Yes, his chums Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Grohl will carry the flag in his stead, but they don’t make them like Lemmy any more – and they never will.

While Motörhead were undoubtedly influential to an extent; Lemmy was more than just influential.

He was an institution. He embodied the rock and roll myth. He proved it could be true. The revelation this week he was nothing more than a mere mortal is not a comfortable one.

Like The Dude in The Big Lebowski, it was good to know Lemmy was out there, ‘takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners’.

Anyhoo. Here are my three favourite ‘Lemmy things’ that weren’t to do with Motorhead.

  1. Probot – Shake Your Blood
  2. His appearance in the Foo Fighters’ White Limo video
  3. Hawkwind – Silver Machine

I don’t want to live forever either, frankly.

Ash… in Ash


I wrote a little ditty about this earlier this year – essentially, a man from the newspaper patch area I cover won a competition to bring the band Ash to his back garden… in the Surrey village of Ash. It was one of the most fun mornings I can recall, and a real treat for me as a big Ash fan.

So here are some of the pics I took that morning that have been lurking on my phone for quite some time, and a few courtesy of one of our photographers.

Absolute Radio Breakfast Show broadcasting from Ash, Surrey, with the band Ash performing after a competition was won by a local listener. James Chapple with Ash




Absolute Radio Breakfast Show broadcasting from Ash, Surrey, with the band Ash performing after a competition was won by a local listener.

Wheatus, The Boileroom


While bands come and go and eventually fade into obscurity, truly great songs always stand the test of time.

Nonetheless, there always has been – and seemingly always will be – a stigma attached to the label of ‘one-hit wonder’.

Wheatus are refreshing insofar as they cherish their 2000 monster hit Teenage Dirtbag. Yes, it really has been 15 years since ‘that song’ came out – but we’ll get back to that later.

After gracing The Boileroom stage in Guildford less than a year ago, Wheatus returned on Friday (October 9) as part of their celebratory 15th anniversary tour.

And it was every bit the raucous celebration you would imagine; what Wheatus manage so successfully is to put on an old-fashioned request show – with a strong backbone.

That backbone tonight is the band’s eponymous debut album, which they have been interspersing throughout their set in its entirety – give or take a song here and there – during their 20-date UK tour, which wrapped up in Brighton on Monday (October 12).


Tonight, we get the lot, from opener Truffles through closer Wannabe Gangstar. For anyone who remembers this album from their teenage years – and there are no shortage of them in the crowd – this is a real treat.

In fact, it’s probably fair to say that for many of packed into a sold-out Boileroom, Wheatus might well have been, and might well still be, something of a guilty pleasure.

Wheatus revel in their lack of cool; it almost defines them. They stick up for the outcasts and the downtrodden. Their songs are eminently relatable, evoking teenage angst as if it were currency.

The night is made all the more joyous, if slightly peculiar, by seeing a room largely full of 20-somethings belting out every word to songs like Punk Ass Bitch and Love Is A Mutt From Hell.

Lyrics like ‘Hey Mr Brown, don’t have a cow!’ hark back to the mid-90s when Wheatus were formed and these songs were hewn – you can almost imagine singer and songwriter Brendan B Brown channelling his inner Bart Simpson.

With his distinctive guitar style, which sees him caress and pluck at his strings rather than hammer at them with a plectrum, Brown comes across as the reluctant rock star, albeit one who within 15 seconds of taking to the stage is clambering onto the barrier and thrusting himself into the crowd.


Like the crowd last night though, I can hear you thinking – ‘yeah, but what about THAT SONG?’. Trust me, we’ll get to that.

To be fair to the crowd, it was at least a good two-thirds into the band’s set before the first concerted call for Teenage Dirtbag.

“You’ll get your Dirtbag,” quips Brown with a knowing smile, taking requests which sees the band air other fan favourites like Lemonade and The London Sun. A rare cut from their back catalogue even gets a debut airing in the UK.

“This is my favourite Wheatus song,” says Brown ahead of a poignant rendition of Valentine, which serves only to amplify the excitement for ‘that song’.

Cue those distinctive opening chords of Teenage Dirtbag, and with a singalong worthy of a venue a thousand times the size of The Boileroom (and the now obligatory selfie with the crowd), that’s that.

It’s a fitting end to the band’s 15th anniversary celebration here in Guildford. Actually, no, it’s the ONLY possible end.

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 13/10/15

Gaz Coombes, The Boileroom


You could have forgiven The Boileroom for not making a big song and dance of their ninth birthday last week and saved themselves instead for next year.

But then, the popular independent venue in Guildford’s Stoke Fields isn’t renowned for doing things by half measures – least of all when there’s a party to be had.

So what they did instead was pull off a coup booking former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes for an intimate solo show on Saturday night (September 19) to cap off the venue’s week-long birthday celebrations.

Ably supported was Coombes by ex-Reuben frontman Camberley’s Jamie Lenman, who cuts an impressive, dapper figure on The Boileroom’s diminuitive stage, filling out every inch of it while switching effortlessly between airy pop anthems and a handful of more introverted, soul-searching cuts at a stroke – or a strum.

All the time, there is a uplifting bonhomie among the patrons of The Boileroom as the clock ticks towards 11pm when Coombes, sporting his trademark pork pie hat and bushy mutton chops, saunters on, slung in an acoustic guitar.

“Alright Guildford?” he drawls, before introducing a stripped back version of Detroit from his second solo effort Matador, released back in January this year.


The perky Hot Fruit and sublime Girl Who Fell To Earth showcase succinctly Matador’s light and shade, while White Noise sees Coombes delve his 2012 debut Here Come The Bombs.

Now very much an established solo artist in his own right, Coombes has often been reticent about giving Supergrass numbers an airing. Two make it onto his setlist tonight, however.

The first is Moving from Supergrass’s eponymous third album; a crisp, luscious croon that contrasts Coombes’ impressive vocal range against just a few modest chords while strains of “moving, just keep moving” elucidate the first real singalong of the night.

It’s a mere warm-up though.

“Hasn’t he got a song for Saturday nights?” shrieks someone in the audience as Coombes retires briefly before his two-song encore. He doesn’t disappoint.

After the customary thanks and platitudes, he tears into Caught By The Fuzz, Supergrass’s first single and first bona fide hit – the song that made their name.


“Just like a bad dream, I was only 15!” rasps Coombes as he recounts, some 20 years later, his very own tale of juvenile delinquency when he arrested for possession of cannabis.

Cue pandemonium. Everyone’s up, everyone’s bouncing, bellowing every word at the top of their voices as if it were 1994 all over again.

Closing out with a final solo number, it’s all over in a flash – good night and God bless from Coombes, who leaves the stage complete – tantalisingly – with drumkit, bass guitar and keyboard all set up.

But besides a few Chinese whispers, and a few conspiracy theories, there’s to be no twist in the tale.

Coombes et all firmly closed the book on Supergrass more than five years ago and with his solo career thriving, don’t hold your breath for a reunion any time soon.

It doesn’t take long for him to emerge from backstage to share a good hour or so chatting with his fans, signing autographs – even posing for a few selfies.

It’s an exultant end to The Boileroom’s ninth birthday celebrations, while leaving just one question unanswered; what on Earth are they going to do for next year’s 10th to top it?

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 23/09/15