LIVE: Boston Manor / Movements / Jools @ Electric Brixton, London

By Yasmin Brown

Is there any greater recipe for excitement than a band booking their biggest headline show to date but having to wait two entire years before stepping on stage? The seemingly infinite line snaking around the block to the Electric Brixton doors this evening would suggest not. It’s been a long 24 months but Boston Manor are finally here. And we are ready. 

Initially planned in support of the band’s 2020 release, ‘GLUE’, the band have rebranded this run of shows as the ‘Welcome Back to the Neighbourhood’ tour with support from Leicester’s Jools and the almighty Movements, straight outta the US. 

The former have a lot to say about the world, channeling their inner IDLES as they express themselves fiercely and firmly with their chests. Jools’ short but impactful set is a call to arms and a platform through which they can vent their frustrations, amping up a crowd that wastes no time in forming endless circle pits from within the sweaty sea of people that have already filed in from the cold. Energy is sky high from front to back and it’s abundantly clear that this is set to be a night for the books. 

Providing a different sound altogether are Movements – a band Boston Manor have been touring with since they struck up a friendship on Warped Tour in 2017 – and it’s evident that this is a band that have garnered a loyal following. If you were to lack all context for this event, you couldn’t be blamed for mistaking this four-piece for tonight’s main event as they kick off with the gloriously sultry ‘Skin to Skin’. Bodies fly carelessly, arms stretch emphatically into the air and, being so clearly ingrained in our psyche, lyrics are screamed into the ether without needing a second thought. The setlist is made up of fan favourites, both old and new, and the emotion this band evokes is tangible throughout, broken up only by the intermittent light-hearted banter of front man Patrick Miranda who takes a moment to express his love for our country (and the fact that we eat beans for breakfast). Closing out on the band’s most popular song, ‘Daylily’, the crowd all but drowns out Miranda up until the very last utterance of “You should stay for a while…”. As they exit the stage, they leave behind them a wake of emotion and we could not be any more in love with this band than we are right now. 

With a lineup as impressive as this, Electric Brixton easily lives up to its name as the venue buzzes in sheer anticipation of tonight’s headliners. We’re so excited that even a slightly delayed start can’t kill our good mood, something which is only further intensified once the introductory dance track kicks in and strobe lights flash, signalling the imminent arrival of our favourite Blackpool five-piece.

Enter Boston. Boston. Boston Fucking Manor. 

As has become customary, the show kicks off with the raucous ‘Everything Is Ordinary’ and it takes mere seconds before front man Henry Cox is having to shout at the lax security to start catching crowd surfers. This is the band’s first time headlining London in four years and no one is taking that fact for granted as even during the more sombre tracks, every person in attendance acts as though this night may well be their last. The band match this energy, too, throwing everything they have into every beat, every strum of the guitar, every slap of the bass, with guitarist Ash Wilson notably picking up the backing vocals and letting us in on his not-so-secret talent. 

Nostalgia and gratitude form much of tonight’s foundations as Cox introduces a run of songs from the band’s first album, ‘Be Nothing’, in celebration of it turning five in 2021. He notes that back then, when they played the Black Heart in Camden to “about 10 people” after driving around in a red van they bought for £500, they never thought they’d be playing these songs to crowds even close to this size. And yet tonight, these three tracks are greeted like old friends – a warm, slightly sticky hug to propel us through the last of the winter weeks and into the forthcoming brighter days.  

It’s not just the crowd that’s grown, either. Boston Manor themselves have come leaps and bounds as individual musicians and as a unit. While there are a few silent moments in between songs, you can see they’ve made a concerted effort to make transitions as smooth as possible. Their shows are no longer just a setlist played out in order – this is their show and you can’t help but feel entirely immersed in this experience, whether you’re slammed forcefully against the barrier or enjoying a more leisurely time on the balcony, watching the carnage unfold before you. 

While the whole set is something to behold, it’s never a better view or more chaotic energy than when ‘You, Me & the Class War’ kicks in. Introduced as an opportunity to let go of any lingering Covid fears, the slow crescendo builds anticipation like nothing else, and when the drums finally crash and the guitars shred, it’s safe to say that all inhibitions have been aggressively thrown out of the window. 

As the song dies down, Cox echoes us all when he acknowledges just how out of shape he is, returning to the mic for a more gentle ode to his fiancée, ‘Let The Right One In’, which sees fans on the shoulders of loved ones, eyes closed and leaning into every utterance of “I’d kill for you / I’d die for you”, each with their own special person in mind as they do so. With just a couple more opportunities to lose our minds, the energy is amped back up to 100 as you hear a faint whisper of “Desperate times call for desperate pleasures…” and the band launch into one of their most recent songs, ‘Carbon Mono’, ahead of closing the night with the best song ever written*, ‘Halo’. If you haven’t lost your voice yet, one final scream of “Just a quick fix then I’ll get clean” will certainly do the trick, and a swift kick to the head as you wrestle with crowdsurfers will ensure a good night’s sleep. 

And just like that, the lights come up and Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ plays over the speakers, leaving us in the greatest of spirits as we exist the venue, dripping with what could just easily be the sweat of others as it could our own. Suddenly, the two years we’ve had to wait for this very moment seems entirely worth it as we bask in the joy we’ve experienced over the past two hours. Let’s not leave it quite so long next time. 

*A truly unbiased opinion, if ever there was one.

YASMIN BROWN