Having been out of the habit of writing for a while and having decided this is the year of ‘YES’ I was pleased when the mission of reviewing the Boyce Avenue gig dropped into my inbox, which naturally, being the year of ‘YES’ I agreed to.
I had been asked to also interview the band and despite being terribly nervous I said ‘YES’ to this too however sadly the promo time got cut with the PR agency, who the mission had come through from, so my fears of interviewing would have to be staved off until another day.
So off the back of a very heavy weekend which involved ‘Just one beer’ turning into a 12 hour drinking session followed by two hours sleep I was more than ropey and my wingman for the night was off the back of a double nightouter and therefore was also ready to sleep on a washing line. Alas – in the true form of ‘troopism’ we were not deterred we decided to champion on.
The gig was held at the Manchester Academy. Now apparently there are three in Manchester, of which I have no idea why but I can only assume a genius thought this up. Trying to find the address was not easy and even the Boyce Avenue website held no insight but luckily some nifty Googling managed to bring back the information I required. Thank goodness for Google is all I can say – not sure how we survived pre internet to be quite frank! I say this but I actually remember the dawn of dial up internet where either you could use the phone OR the internet and under no circumstances both… anyone that picked up a phone when someone was on the internet were deafened by alien noises on the other end. Education right there for all you youngsters… the internet has come on leaps and bounds since hamster wheels and I guess before the interweb and sat navs we used maps or maybe pigeons and eagles…
I digress…so I knew the address of the venue and I knew there were several car parks around the venue. Happy days… however that was not to be. I am not sure if the car parks are generally difficult to navigate OR if our lack of sleep and hangovers were truly being tested – either way it tested my patience.
So the car park right next door to the venue is a little maze. For anyone using it in the future, drive in and press the buzzer, this is next to the little hut, which will be closed, just before the barrier. The barrier will not lift up on its own no matter how many times you drive towards it… trust me I tried…it doesn’t work.
Thankfully, shortly before contemplating ramming the barrier, a white van driver came to my rescue and gave me a set of instructions that I can only assume were to unlock a vault somewhere.
So…. you press the buzzer, this lifts said barrier… you then follow the road around and get to another barrier, this barrier you get to put spondulas in, which after 4pm is only £2. Then you get to park…. Not too confusing you say… but then later on, when you forget the initial trauma of getting in, you have to navigate getting out which is much harder and you start to wonder when you became part of the Labrynth trying to save a baby brother you didn’t know you had all for the sake of a parking space! Trust me the little brother isn’t worth it…drive onto the next car park unless of course you are not battling a two day hangover then am sure this is all easily navigable and you will overthrow the goblin king.
Anyway…. we parked and then we were onto the next crazy moment… as a sudden bad smell started to engulf the car. I looked at my wingman assuming last night had started to get the better of him and he was releasing hangover gas….. As we are pretty good friends, I was about to ask him straight out when I realised the smell was emanating from my bag…. as I was worried he might think the smell was me I harped up ‘god my bag stinks but I have no idea why’ Now to anyone else this would have seemed a ‘likely story’, however, as this friend was drinking with me two nights earlier he was able to inform me that I had, in fact, dropped a kebab in my bag and that was probably what the smell was… so I ditched the bag and off we went.
Now I had not heard of Boyce Avenue until I got asked to review them however, my friend decided to give me the low down en route, slowly sending me into a near nervous breakdown as I realised my interview questions of ‘Which two super hero powers would you combine and why’ may not have gone down with such a well established band no matter how good of a question that indeed was. Apparently his mate is a very avid fan and not only are they well known but they have also featured as mentors on the American version of the X Factor… well who knew!
Go figure my intentions of getting to the gig and getting an upfront spot were soon dashed as it seemed everyone, bar me, realised how big this bang actually was and it was pretty much a sell out.
The support act was Calum Scott ‘a normal lad aiming for the extraordinary’ who truly had a brilliant voice and I wish we had got to see more of him.
Boyce Avenue, the main act, are comprised of three brothers from Sarasota Florida, Alejandro, Fabian and Daniel. The bands name is a combination of two streets the brothers lived on as children and the band first formed in 2004.
Boyce Avenue have made a huge career out of covers and Youtube is, quite literally, bursting with them. In fact so much so it took me a while to find some original material. Alenjandro actually asked the crowd how many people found them through Youtube and I think it would be safe to say the majority fell into that category.
Most of the covers seem to be done by Alejandro, the lead singer, however his brothers regroup with him on all of their original work.
Due to their success with covers it was clear the gig would not be solely about their up and coming album, Road Less Travelled, which is available for pre-order now, and would also feature a lot of their key covers.
First off they covered Oasis – Wonderwall, which in Manchester was always going to go down more than well. They also covered the Foo Fighters – Everlong, however Alejandros voice didn’t seem to quite hold out for this but then given the are amidst a pretty darn big tour, you have to give the dude a break.
They did an awesome rendition of Kings of Leon – Someone like you and for me this was one of the best songs that they performed. They also covered Tracy Chapman – Fast Car which certainly falls into one of my all time favourites so I was glad they didn’t butcher it.
They finished with an encore with Googoo Dolls – Iris.
I am pleased to say they also did a few of their own songs but I am guessing these are less well known especially until the new album is released. They sang the first song they ever wrote called ‘Find me’ however my favourite has to be ‘When the lights die’.
The band are good…however… I was trying to work out why it wasn’t all coming together for me as something was clearly missing was not completely gelling, then I realised, there was no drummer. Not moments after I noted that down, maybe two songs later, they happened to introduce a guest drummer…big brother is watching you…but I am glad as it really made a difference and completely emphasised that this is what was missing. It totally brought everything to life.
The lead singer has a beautiful voice and is exceptional acoustically and despite being a fan of rock and metal, I preferred the rawness of the acoustic guitar over their electric vibe and I think their voices lend themselves more to the softer tones. During some songs I struggled to hear the backing vocals which were over powered by the guitars and the lead singer.
The brothers, Daniel and Fabian, could do with a little more stage presence, sorry to say. I am not sure if this stems from being born from Youtube videos but there was not much audience interaction, bar the few shouts from Alejandros, but the other two seemed in the shadows a little and could do with being a little more animated to make the show visually engaging as well as a delight for the ears.
All in all these are a good band in the making and I hope they manage to establish themselves and break free from the ‘pigeon hole’ of ‘covers’ that they seem to now be associated with.
Still well worth a listen if you are into the likes of The Script. Take a listen and see for yourselves…