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

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.

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

Ben Ottewell, The Boileroom


Few bands have risen to prominence with quite the same alacrity that propelled Gomez towards the top of the charts during the late 1990s.

The band’s debut album, Bring It On, was a potent statement; a heady gumbo of delta blues and fetid psychedelia that was as unexpected as it was triumphant.

Whippin’ Piccadilly and Get Myself Arrested became indie classics while album cuts Make No Sound, 78 Stone Wobble and Tijuana Lady cemented Gomez’s talent for blending a diverse array of influences yet maintaining coherence.

The album went platinum; so did its follow-up Liquid Skin. Such was its success, Bring It On bagged the band an unexpected Mercury Prize in 1998, besting the likes of Pulp, Massive Attack and The Verve.

Gomez even played the legendary Glastonbury Festival that year – twice in fact.

But for all the plaudits, Gomez were never destined to be a commercial juggernaut. The band retreated into ever darker, minimalist territory and slipped away from the limelight.


Thankfully, the legacy of the band’s early days lives on through guitarist and vocalist Ben Ottewell, whose rasping baritone came to characterise the band’s sound.

Bearded and bespectacled, Ottewell tears straight into Rattlebag – the title track from his latest 2014 album, from which he draws heavily throughout his hour-long set at The Boileroom on Tuesday (April 7).

“This is my first gig in Guildford,” muses Ottewell after a brooding airing of Patience And Rosaries, also from Rattlebag. “And not the last – hopefully,” he teases.

From the outset, the atmosphere inside The Boileroom crackles with anticipation and reverie; every song is breathtakingly observed without so much as a cough or murmur to break Ottewell’s spellbinding hold over his audience.

Even a quick retune after Free To Run (“the first song I ever wrote”) is met with hush.

“This is what happens if you leave your guitar hanging around in a house full of children,” he jests before So Slow, a “cack-handed effort”, says Ottewell, at a traditional blues song.


Gomez favourite Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone sparks the first truly rowdy response from the audience, stripped back to just Ottewell’s acoustic guitar and harrowing vocal.

Shapes and Shadows, the title track from Ottewell’s first solo album, and Gomez number Hamoa Beach are equally well-received, but it is the run-in starting with Get Miles, the opening track from Bring It On, and Red Dress from Rattlebag that sees Ottewell exercise his chops.

Get Miles is a real sprawling treat, given a uptempo, bluesy makeover as Ottewell bellows out verse after acerbic verse before the song’s poignant refrain of “get miles away” reverberates serenely around The Boileroom in his distinctive burr.

And after a touching rendition of bittersweet love note Red Dress, time is almost up. “Turn the reverb up please,” he asks of the sound desk before gently strumming the first melodic strains of Tijuana Lady.

It’s a mesmerising finale, and a timely reminder the captivating qualities Ottewell and his cohorts harnessed long ago are still very much alive today.

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 09/04/15

Martin Harley Band, The Boileroom


There is an old, perhaps hackneyed, saying – what goes around comes around.

The logic being sooner or later, everyone finds themselves in the right place at the right time at least once or twice in life.

For Martin Harley, his star has arguably risen anew in light of a ‘tweevolution’ in the charts.

Not long before his show at The Boileroom on February 27, breakthrough folksters Mumford & Sons were unveiled as one this year’s Reading Festival headliners, hot on the heels of their 2013 headlining show at Glastonbury.

A slew of like acts, not to mention the return of Fleetwood Mac, has inspired an acoustic folk and blues revival in recent years, breathing new life into a genre of music that has long been dormant, at least in terms of mainstream acclaim.


Now, in light of old-fashioned blues and folk finding chart-topping success, Martin Harley similarly finds himself riding the crest of a popular wave, one which sees him, unsurprisingly, draw quite a crowd at The Boileroom.

Hailing originally from south Wales, Harley’s family moved to Woking in his youth so Friday’s show also comes as something of a homecoming for the bluesy troubadour, who has taken his act around the world since penning his 2003 eponymous debut album.

While delivering a career-spanning set, there is still a particular focus on 2012’s Mojo Fix, the title track of which provides a rip-roaring introduction to Harley’s music and his consummate showmanship after more than a decade on the road.

Blessed with a voice that carries a certain tenderness that resonates beautifully around the intimate environs of a venue like The Boileroom, Harley peppers his set with an early salvo of saccharine acoustic numbers.

Yet he holds back a fiery, snarling, rasping yelp that propels some of his more lairy numbers, which, after a slightly hokey start, drives the second half of the show on to a more raucous conclusion.

A fitting centrepiece is Harley’s cover of Tom Waits’ brilliantly twisted Chocolate Jesus, which despite being given a cutesy makeover by Harley and co, loses none of the intensity of Waits’ gloomy original.


During the latter stages of his set, Harley, his bassist and drummer, fully unplug and serenade The Boileroom completely acoustic.

It’s a poignant moment, if a little corny, but it’s as brilliantly judged as it is received. Again, it speaks of Harley’s stagecraft, as well as the crowd’s polite reverence, that the venue falls deathly silent while Harley’s gentle croons wash over proceedings.

However, the set thankfully culminates with a vicious flurry of slide guitar numbers, including a spellbinding rendition of Love In The Afternoon where we see the Martin Harley Band, as a collective, finally cut loose.

It feels like a fitting conclusion after a topsy-turvy journey through Harley’s influences and heritage, which he wears proudly on his sleeve.

Martin Harley clearly has the skill, talent and presence to grace venues far in excess of the size of The Boileroom so it is with gusto the crowd give him the warmest of send offs after a near hour-and-a-half set; catch him now while he’s still doing the rounds.

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 03/03/15

Mariachi El Bronx, The Boileroom


Mariachi El Bronx shouldn’t work.

Five hardcore punk rockers eschewing their riffs and power chords in favour of flamenco guitars and burbling brass while leading their fans through a cheery array of polkas and waltzes?

Get real.

The thronging hordes crammed into The Boileroom on Tuesday night (February 17) would, however, suggest otherwise. It’s a sell-out, and with good reason.

Let’s spool back a bit. In 2002, The Bronx were founded by five like-minded guys in Los Angeles. Their sound was raw, punchy and abrasive.

Then, in 2007, they announced they were recording not one, but two new albums. The first, a straight up ballsy punk album; the second, a mariachi album entitled El Bronx. And thus, Mariachi El Bronx were born.

The band have since released three albums as their flamenco-inspired alter ego and on Tuesday, they made their bow at The Boileroom, ably supported by Pounded By The Surf, who entertained with their 50s-inspired surf rock stylings reminiscent of The Tornadoes and The Shadows.


Swelling to an eight-piece to accommodate a host of weird and wonderful new instruments, El Bronx barely have room to breathe on The Boileroom’s diminutive stage.

There is nothing diminutive about their performance, however.

Every song during the band’s more than hour-long set has room to develop, to progress and to meander without members treading on each other’s toes – musically as much as physically.

Empty beer bottles soon litter the stage as the band quickly grow into their performance, led by frontman Matt Caughthran, who is warmly greeted by hundreds of Guildfordians.

Suited and booted in traditional Mexican attire, albeit without a sombrero in sight, there is a slight of hand about El Bronx’s carefully constructed melodies and rhythms you might not necessarily associate with a group of musicians so firmly rooted in hardcore punk, an ethos rarely famed for subtlety.

Flicking between intricate time signatures in a stroke, the band lead their audience, almost involuntarily, on something of a merry jig, although decent trade at the bar doesn’t harm their cause.


Fan favourites such as 48 Roses and a triumphant rendition of Litigation litter the set, which draws heavily from both the band’s guises and, of course, plenty from El Bronx’s third eponymous album, released last year.

They even break out a brand new song which, says Caughthran, was penned just hours earlier at the George Abbot pub overlooking the River Wey. Cue hysteria, of course.

Make no bones about it, El Bronx are a band revered the world over by their hardcore fans – but it comes as something of a surprise the sheer affection with which they are held here in Guildford.

Who knew there was such a demand for something as relatively diverse and alien as mariachi music, let alone a twisted hybrid of mariachi and punk?

Mariachi El Bronx’s infectious grooves are as much a joyous antidote to dozens of rock and punk gigs as they are a tender homage to a style of music that clearly means a huge amount to every member of the band.

It is a rare delight, as is watching a band with the talent to switch so readily between two very different styles of music with ease. Olé amigos!

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 19/02/15

Frankie & The Heartstrings, The Boileroom


The jangly indie-pop stylings of Frankie & The Heartstrings saw Independent Venue Week (IVW) celebrations at The Boileroom in Guildford kick up a notch on Wednesday (January 28).

The Sunderland quintet have built a small, but loyal, following since the band’s chance encounter in a bar on the city’s left bank in 2008.

Three years’ hard graft later, 2011 debut album Hunger charted at number 32 – earning Frankie and co knowing nods on the national and international stage.

Their 2013 follow-up The Days Run Away spawned single Nothing Our Way and fan favourite Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light).

In the intervening period, playing second fiddle to the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines and Florence And The Machine did little to stymy a steady flow of glowing reviews.

Ably supported themselves by Wiker, Future Talks and the anarchic Arctic Monkeys-esque sneer of Woking rockers The Sheratones, there was an understandably fuzzy feeling of community at the venue on Wednesday night when the band took to the stage, slap-bang in the middle of IVW (January 26 to February 1).


It was vocalist Frankie Francis who perhaps summed up the real importance of initiatives like IVW most succinctly, quipping in his Mackem burr: “They’ve got a noodle bar here – perhaps all venues should have noodle bars!”

In many ways, there is arguably something ever-so-slightly immaterial about the actual gigs held as part of IVW, which aims to celebrate everything that is so unique and often unusual about the country’s slew of embattled independent music venues.

The Boileroom has been the last bastion of Guildford’s alternative music scene for nearly a decade and continues to thrive, despite a myriad of obstacles which have, at times, put the Stoke Fields venue at risk.

However, from Wiker through Future Talks, The Sheratones and finally Frankie, there is a sense that the crowd as much as the bands understand just what is at stake if support dwindles for venues such as The Boileroom.

And it speaks volumes of the venue’s quality and draw that it was able to swing, as part of IVW, a gig on Friday (January 30) by Weybridge chart toppers You Me At Six, which saw thousands of fans try to bag just a couple of hundred tickets.

Dapper Frankie frontman Francis quickly makes the stage at The Boileroom his own, strutting about with an air of confidence and vigour you might expect from a young Mick Jagger.


He is flanked by guitarists, founder member Michael McKnight and ex-Futureheads axeman Ross Millard, who take it in turns to briefly tear away from the band’s twee verse-chorus barrage with the occasional flash of virtuosity.

Rhythm section, bassist Michael Matthews and drummer Dave Harper, tie the band’s tight sound together, elucidating a handful of passionate sing-alongs as the gig reaches a crescendo after a slightly slow start.

Choice cuts from Hunger such as Fragile and the title track bring the band’s 45-minute set to a raucous, yet also understated finale.

The band pay their respects with a nod to the IVW before they stroll off stage and out into the crowd to wind down with their loyal fans.

It’s such a simple gesture, but one that can only be achieved at a venue like The Boileroom – and one their fans, most importantly, will remember and cherish.

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published on Get Surrey, 29/01/15

Reel Big Fish, The Boileroom


It has been a week of contrasts for California ska punk icons Reel Big Fish.

Their show at the vast Sonisphere festival at Knebworth House was duly followed by an appearance at the intimate Boileroom last Friday night (July 11).

But then Reel Big Fish have always been something of an enigma.

Like their peers, Less Than Jake, Sublime, and so on, they have carved a career from a style of music which arguably saw its heyday while the band were still in short trousers.

But despite never enjoying a ‘hit’, per sé – save for the popularity of 1997 single Sell Out – it’s hard to argue with a career that stretches back the best part of a quarter of a century, spawning eight studio albums.

Ska has always been the preserve of the outsider, of the also-ran, and it is this underdog mentality that seems to chime with the hordes who packed into The Boileroom on Friday.

Following lively warm-up acts, The Magnus Puto and The Jellycats, a heady haze of steam, sweat and anticipation hangs over the sell-out crowd. There is no pretension; everyone’s here for a good time.

It’s an intoxicating feature of The Boileroom, a venue, which over the best part of a decade, has established itself as arguably the last bastion of live alternative music in Guildford.

It has built a reputation for giving top acts a reminder of the club circuit where they made their names.

The band’s infectious enthusiasm as they bound onto a stage, barely big enough to accommodate them – let alone their brass ensemble – is testament to the kick they still get out of performing.

Delving deep into their fulsome back catalogue, the band’s hour-long set draws as much from the likes of fan favourites Beer and Trendy from 1995 debut Everything Sucks as it does from 2012’s Candy Coated Fury.

But it is the blinding finale, featuring hit covers Monkey Man by Toots and The Maytals and A-Ha’s Take on Me that bring the house down.

Limbs flail and beers are spilled as the skanking and the po-going reaches a crescendo. It may be just another night on tour for Reel Big Fish; but it feels like The Boileroom has scored a coup.

While the band may have been selling out much bigger venues more than a decade ago, Reel Big Fish come over as a group enjoying their twilight years.

And if the dozens of smiling faces who trouped out of The Boileroom are anything to go by, they will be welcomed back any time.

James Chapple

Pictures by Sophie Garrett.

Originally published in the Surrey Advertiser, 18/07/14

Note: The Boileroom is currently facing a licensing review, which could potentially result in its closure. Please help support the venue by reading and signing this.

Nick Oliveri, The Boileroom

Rome, June 3, and Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) have just walked on stage at Rock in Roma, one of Italy’s biggest music festivals.

Led by the band’s daunting frontman Josh Homme, they rip into Millionaire from their 2002 hit album Songs for the Deaf. Thousands go wild at the city’s Capannelle racecourse.

The same night, more than 1,000 miles away, another man has just walked on stage and kicked into Millionaire.

But in stark contrast, former QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri’s audience is little more than 100 devotees, packed into Guildford’s rock and roll refuge, The Boileroom.

Does he care? Not a bit of it.

Now touring his all acoustic one-man solo show, Oliveri – complete with his distinctive shiny bald head and trademark six-inch goatee – paints the picture of a man finally at peace.

In January 2004, he was unceremoniously booted out of QOTSA after his relationship with Homme broke down.

While the band has ascended to headline status, due to top the bill at this year’s Reading and Leeds festival in August, Oliveri’s career has been characterised by false starts.

Tuesday’s show at The Boileroom (June 3) was the third in a 19-date tour in support of his new single Human Cannonball Explodes and new album Leave Me Alone, due later this year.

It’s a refreshing new beginning for Oliveri.

His 50-minute set draws variously from his 20 years in the business, including Kyuss classic Green Machine, while a handful of new material is well-received by the knowledgeable audience.

But it is Oliveri’s QOTSA numbers they have come for, having co-written the band’s 2000 album Rated R and the aforementioned Songs for the Deaf with Homme.

Cheers greet acoustic takes on songs like Gonna Leave You, Another Love Song and Auto Pilot, sparking what feels like a boy scouts’ campfire singalong, only with far more beards.

Oliveri invites a dozen or so fans up on stage with him for a rousing rendition of QOTSA drug anthem Feel Good Hit of the Summer, which features the rhythmic chant of ‘nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol’.

But opening gambit Millionaire remains Oliveri’s most distinctive contribution, one he performed with QOTSA in April for the first time in 10 years during a gig in Portland, Oregon.

While his exile from the band seems set to continue, Oliveri’s career and outlook appears the healthiest it has been in the best part of a decade.

His show at The Boileroom underlines his talent to go it alone.

James Chapple

Originally published in the Surrey Advertiser, 06/06/14