[sic] Magazine

The Boxer Rebellion + Diez, La Chapelle Club, Mons,

“So here we are”

Where is ‘here’ exactly? Mons, a cobblestoned Belgian ville whose beautiful town hall has certainly had some money thrown at it in recent years. La Chapelle Club, as the name hints, is a converted Chapel. My kind of building. We’re here to see The Boxer Rebellion, alt rock music’s great survivors and greatest hope. They will not disappoint because they cannot disappoint. They can only energize, enrapt or break your heart depending on exactly where they’ve alighted in their set list.


Diez kick things off. I’ll admit to being one of those punters who goes to gigs strictly for the main act but La Chapelles bar and stage are one and the same room. No hiding place then, and with time I’m rather pleased to have witnessed Diez, a Powerpop trio with the merest of Mediterranean influences. Think; ‘Devotchka plays Muse’ and you’re close enough. I marked down the bassist and drummer as more than competent. Diez’ star is the frontman/guitarist who wrings all manner of sounds and expressions out of his face, whilst also whirling around like a dervish with his guitar variously above his head or behind his back. A talent indeed. These guys could be big news in Belgium.


“What the rest did I was average but I don’t mind”

Pre-gig, drummer, Piers Hewitt is at his impish, deadpan best. “Not seen us before? Don’t worry, we’re not very good.” Well Piers, in that case I’m not a very good writer either. So we’re even.

The Boxers latest album, Union is my Album of 2009 but the debut, Exits comes in bloody handy when you’ve a show to put on. Those feisty, angry older numbers such as ‘Flight’ and ‘Watermelon’ nicely punctuate the more restrained beauty of the Union choices. We get ‘These Walls Are Thin’, ‘Evacuate’, ‘Forces’, ‘Misplaced’ and of course ‘Spitting Fire’.


Most memorably we’re treated to a somewhat extended version of ‘Flashing Red Light Means Go’. As no less than three of the band provide drums on this particular track it is probably serendipitous that La Chapelle Club decided to blow the electrics during this particular intro. Our Boxers were left to drum gamely and fervently, unaccompanied, in complete darkness for a full ten minutes while someone found the fuse box. It was triumph out of adversity. The crowd clapped their arms off. Nathan Nicholson cracked up with laughter during the usually sneered, delayed opening line “What’s the use of my advice…” etc It was a moment that brought everyone together, early in the set and they never looked back from there.


“We see each other from the corners of the room”

True to Nicholsons word before the gig, a couple of wonderful new songs were aired. ‘Both Sides Are Even’ fits nicely alongside their recent work whilst the stunning ‘Nothing’ put a lump in my throat. (“No it’s okay honey, I’ve just got something in my eye…again.”) ‘Forces’ is rapturously received but new stuff and blackouts aside, it remains hard to top ‘Watermelon’. If you have never heard it live you haven’t really heard it.


It’s an odd setting though. Don’t get me wrong. La Chapelle Club is an utterly charming venue a stylish mixture of older building and modern equipment. (The lighting rig is the best I’ve seen in a small setting. The sound kit, expensive. The sound blighted by the brickwork and hollow stage. The crowd, as per the norm for Belgian gig-goers are warm and appreciative.) It’s just strange to see them here. It’s one of those rare ‘gift’ moments. The Belgians are unfamiliar with TBR, hence the coup of bringing them to Mons. The band themselves enjoy the opportunity to play such an intimate setting.

Todd and Nathan

See them now. Where they’re headed, it may be some while before they’re able to play such low-key shows again. The Boxer Rebellion are blending Radiohead angst with Coldplay’s melodic nous and Sigur Ros dynamics. Throw some Verve, Interpol and Editors into the mixture and it is clear that the arenas and stadia of nearby Brussels seem a more likely host for any future visit. We’ll go again though. Even to such vast, soulless venues. The Boxer Rebellion have the emotional punch to become next years heavyweights. A band to believe in. A musical synergy made possible only by these four men…

… in union.



Union review

EP review

La Chapelle Club

[sic] Magazine extends its thanks to La Chapelle Club. The Boxer Rebellion photography by Luna. Diez photo courtesy of Frederick Tubiermont, La Chapelle Club. Follow the link there to more photo albums.