LIVE: Boston Manor @ The Forum, Tunbridge Wells

By Yasmin Brown

It’s always a little bit special when a band travels beyond the usual major cities, venturing to smaller venues in smaller towns; the anticipation always feels that much more tangible when local fans can avoid long train rides and be tucked up in bed by 11pm after proving what their hometown is made of.

Which is why, when Boston Manor announced a short regional tour this December, shows sold out in no time and – to make it even more special – each show would be in support of a local women’s shelter. Fans were asked to bring along toys to donate in support of such charities and QR codes appeared around the venue to encourage further monetary donations.

Tonight, at Boston Manor’s first ever show in Tunbridge Wells, fans have been asked to support DAVSS, an award-winning community based charity supporting victims of domestic abuse. As you file into the tiny 250 capacity venue, bags upon bags of donated toys can be seen collected on the floor, highlighting the giving nature of tonight’s crowd and starting off the evening with the warming, wholesome vibes we need on this bitter evening.

Following a stellar and well-received performance from the mighty Heriot, it’s Blackpool locals Boston Manor’s turn to take to the barrier-less stage. With it being the first time in a while they’ve played in such a setting, front man Henry Cox offers up their platform to the crowd – “Our stage is your stage” – an offer that’s quickly accepted as bodies appear on stage only to launch themselves off into the flailing arms ready to catch them and guide them haphazardly to safety.

In another first for this five-piece, tonight they’re playing their new album ‘Datura’ in full, something they claim to have been wanting to do for some time. The slow-starting nature of this record means that the show takes longer than usual to kick off but it’s not long before the carnage we’ve all come to love and expect ensues, sweat quickly starting to trickle down the backs and necks of everyone in attendance, not least those still tucked up in 10 layers to fight off the cold outside.

Despite only being released a couple of months prior, fans already have the lyrics memorised, singing and screaming emphatically along to each of the ‘Datura’ songs, showing unending commitment to the band. Experiencing these songs in a live setting only further amplifies their dark and sultry nature, giving them a new life and allowing us to fall more in love as they’re played expertly by this tight knit band of friends.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Boston Manor show without the classics, and once the band has tied up their latest release with the stunning ‘Inertia’, they launch into the second part of the set which sees performances of songs from their entire back catalogue. It’s this second act that best highlights just how consistently strong Boston Manor have been since the release of ‘Be Nothing’ back in 2016, with songs from each of their albums being met with as much enthusiasm as each other, proving that their growth and change in sound over the last six years has been executed to perfection and embraced with open arms.

Stage divers are rife throughout, bringing a level of intimacy and connection that’s hard to achieve in larger, barriered venues. It’s an intimacy that’s only heightened as Cox directs the crowd to split down the middle as he joins us on the floor for 2020’s ‘You, Me & the Class War’ – a chaotic highlight of the evening as Cox is happily engulfed by the crowd once the final chorus kicks in.

Tonight has been a true celebration of British music and as the final notes of forever favourite ‘Halo’ continue to ring in our ears as we brace ourselves to face the baltic night, you can’t help but feel proud to be a part of this small but special scene – one that Boston Manor are undoubtedly helping to drive forwards. It might be a while before we experience another Bozzy headline show so we’ll certainly be doing all we can to hold onto this feeling for as long as we can.