April 6, 2006
Review by Daimian Holiday Scott
British culture has a long history of mixing a childlike wonder with a vicious sense of humor. One of the most memorable instances in my mind is Clive Staples Lewis, the author of the immensely popular "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. A fact most novices do not know is that the fanciful tales of Narnia serve as the only juvenile fiction C.S. ever scribed and published. If you have had the pleasure of reading the series you know that C.S. Lewis tapped into an understanding that modern culture, from animated films such as "Shrek" to the Happy Meal at McDonald's, took quite a bit longer to understand. To have the largest appeal to the mass populace, it is essential to engage everyone from the developing child to their parents to their grandparents. C.S. Lewis was able to accomplish this through biting satire in the guise of a children's book, and The Boy Least Likely To, a band from Wendover, England is attempting the same sleight of hand through its music.
For those of you new to The Boy Least Likely To (TBLLT), this band captures an innocence within their music through their lyrics, such as on "My Tiger, My Heart" in describing the difficulty of being friends with their heart they offer, "But it's hard sometimes to be friends with something that eats butterflies", and a selection of instruments including a recorder, banjo, vibra-slap, as well as the artwork from the cover of their latest album, "The Best Party Ever" and it's colorful drawings of various created animals, to it's videos which feature large scale versions of these characters. So, let me tell you that it was quite the surprise to see that they were about to embark on a mega-tour headlined by James Blunt, he of "Beautiful", "Oprah", and continuous top 10 album, "Back to Bedlam", fame.
With intense anticipation at attending a show for a pop star with the notoriety of Mr. Blunt, I entered the Warfield all abuzz prepared to witness a spectacle. However, I was also a bit reluctant as to how the audience would react to the self-proclaimed geeks and nerds of TBLLT. To provide a setting, TBLLT's show was comprised of a massive banner featuring the aforementioned album cover high above the band, with lead singer and lyricist, Jof Owen, at the head and a cohort of other musicians featuring co-leader Pete Hobbs on acoustic guitar and a drummer, bassist, lead guitarist who occasionally switched to the banjitar, and keyboard player.
Most of the songs have a bubbly undertone, and as they blasted their way through "Hugging my Grudge", "Rock upon a Porch with You", "I'm Glad I hitched my Apple wagon to your Star" and "Monsters", the crowd slowly started embracing the band. Throughout Jof took the time to educate the crowd as he paused to describe instrument after instrument as he pulled them out to assist the band, including the aforementioned vibra-slap, which is a percussion instrument consisting of a piece of stiff wire connecting a wood ball to a block of wood with metal "teeth" inside; when the percussionist holds the handle in one hand and strikes the ball, the metal teeth vibrate against the wood block, causing a distinctive rattling sound. "Monsters", however, incorporated one of the most annoying, seizure-inducing displays of lighting I have ever witnessed at a show. It was like a mischievous kid had snuck in and flicked the theater lights on and off, non-stop for 5 minutes. Not surprisingly the cheer elicited after the lights had gone off, which only proved to be a false ending, and proved to be greater than those when the song actually finished.
Fortunately their spunk was enough to win over a large portion of the audience and by the time they reached set closer and current single, "Be Gentle with Me", there was almost dancing taking place, which for the kid in me, made the whole night more than worth the price of admission.