old fire station (bournemouth, uk)
Boston Manor successfully squashed any expectation and pressure following their critically acclaimed third album, GLUE, with this year’s release of Datura, which saw a new, darker, more mature sound for the band. Instrumentally, the band transcended their previous pop-punk and heavy rock roots, bringing in a sonically experimental aesthetic, packaged up with hauntingly honest lyricism from frontman Henry Cox.
The band decided to treat fans with performing Datura in full. Their performance both on record and live mimics that of the meaning behind their album’s name; Datura is a beautiful but highly poisonous intelligent species of plant, with trumpet-shaped flowers, known to be hallucinogenic. The sound coming from the five-piece is apt to that, taking moments of breadth is expansive sonic loops, collapsing into intimate lyrical hooks that make this the perfect record to be showcased live, with many singalong opportunities for their audience.
Their set shows the enjoyment in the newer material, as Cox shoves his mic into the air during hooks to let the crowd take the lead for the more memorable chorus licks. The band jumps about stage with energetic ardor as Jordan Pugh slams the snares on single “Passenger.” Despite the content of the band’s new sound being highly intimate, it feels as though the audience are duly invited to be a part of it, and that vulnerability is very much shared on stage and on the floor alike. The whole night is personable, with Henry taking moments in-between songs to crack jokes, fill the void during a couple minor technical difficulties, and to talk about the toy appeal the band did over the course of the tour for various local charities.
The night is not all about Datura, though, with Boston Manor showing more tools in their belt from earlier in their discography such as “Halo” and “Flowers in your Dustbin.” They may appear on the surface to be a fresh new blood band due to how exuberantly they play and how in-tune they seem with the current scene; they do this effortlessly, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting they’ve been a band for almost a decade. That is a testament, however, to how uncomplicated they make being a solid band, consistently grafting and releasing thought-provoking music look, making them one of the staples in setting the bar for the U.K. rock scene.