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SPIRIT OF REBELLION
:: The Boxer Rebellion :: We Are Augustines ::
06 March 2011 / Ruby Lounge / Manchester
By Adam Wheeldon

Following on from the low-key tour back in October last year which illustrated the desire of the band to preview new songs and showcase their determination to succeed despite numerous setbacks, The Boxer Rebellion are now at the stage where they are touring a brand new album on a full UK tour which can either be viewed as a celebration of their desire to carry on or the start of a crucial make-or-break time in the band's career. Considering the amount of misfortune which has already befallen them and the fact that the Ruby Lounge is packed out on a Sunday night, this leans more towards the view that the band have enough appeal and energy to face whatever is waiting for them in the future.

First up, a healthy sized crowd are gathered to welcome Brooklyn three-piece We Are Augustines to a Manchester stage for the first time. Delivering an energetic, acoustic-led sound throughout, the passionate vocals of singer Billy McCarthey compliment the endless supply of warm, melodic hooks which bring an enthusiastic response throughout. Appearing genuinely excited to be here during the entire performance, singer McCarthey displays an infectious personality despite the relatively dark nature of his lyrics. Coming across like a modern day Springsteen and with a sound that can draw comparisons to Arcade Fire, We Are Augustines showcase an emotive take of modern day Americana which has a distinctly unique feel thanks to the raw nature of the vocals and a passion for strong, infectious melodies with the likes of 'Chapel Song' striking a chord within an attentive audience. With debut album 'Rise Ye Sunken Ships' set to drop this summer, they have certainly won over a few new followers judging by the response they have received tonight, and that album may very well find its a way onto a few playlists once festival season kicks in.

After the runaway success of The Boxer Rebellion's previous album 'Union' which saw the band hit number four in the I-Tunes UK album chart despite having no record label and being completely self-funded, the band have solidly built up a loyal fanbase which was emphasised by the strong turnout at their last gig in the city at FAC251 in October 2010 and is reciprocated tonight at The Ruby Lounge. Having recently released new album 'The Cold Still' which was produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Kings Of Leon), the future is certainly looking a lot brighter for a band who have spent the bulk of their careers playing live to survive.



Tonight, the Boxers' are focusing on what lies ahead as 'The Cold Still forms a major part of their set as all but four songs from the album are aired. Opening with 'The Runner' which has their trademark jangly riffs and soaring vocals, it is a strong statement of intent from a band who specialise in delivering emotionally-charged anthems. Aside from the chugging riffs and bass heavy groove of 'Step Out Of The Car' which is aired tonight with particular emotion, the rest of the new album follows a more laid back affair which is a slight step away from the more powerful nature of their earlier work. Despite this, the likes of 'Organ Song' with Nathan Nicholson's warm acoustic strumming along with the darker, introspective tale of 'Caught By The Light', certainly show that the band have lost none of their original intensity but are now being broadcast under a more sombre atmosphere.



Despite the focus on new material and with it a well received response, the biggest cheers are ultimately reserved for when the band delve into their first two albums. Tracks aired tonight such as 'Spitting Fire' and 'Semi-Automatic' from the 'Union' album carry waves of soaring guitar and reverb along with the raw, passionate vocals of singer Nathan which showcase just how moving they continue to be in the live arena. Ending the set with 'Watermelon' off their first album, it is a traditional set closer which has Nathan jump into the audience to scream his vocals in a much more personal way while the heavy riffs and rumbling bass create an epic wall of noise behind him. Coming back to encore with the dark, piano-led tale of 'No Harm' and finishing with a wondrous re-working of 'The Gospel Of Goro Adachi' which has been turned into an electro-rock beast full of haunting rhythms, the band exit knowing that they have once again maintained a loyal following within the city which shows little sign of dispersing. Despite the strong emphasis of new material on display tonight which limited the amount of older numbers that many would have liked to have heard, it illustrates the quality they have to offer over three albums which has seen them maintain their passion and emotion throughout. Tonight has once again illustrated how they deserve to be heard on a bigger stage, but with their future looking a lot more grand.


Photos by Gaz Tops.


Resources:
The Boxer Rebellion
We Are Augustines

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