Review – Boris at The Y Theatre, Sunday 15th December 2019

Photo: Boris by Kevin Gaughan

with Årabrot

Reviewed by Kashif Hussain
Organised by The Robot Needs Home Collective

No relation to the current prime minister, Boris are a band from Japan that have a career spanning 17 years and 25 studio albums. They’re known for their unwillingness to stick with one sound, frequently and seamlessly jumping from one genre to the next over the years. For the first time, they brought their signature brand of experimental music to Leicester with terrific results.

Grammy winning Norwegian noise rockers Årabrot took to the stage first, giving the audience a taste of the loudness to come with a raw, post punk edge. Vocalist Kjetil’s cool hat gave him a distinctive stage presence, looking like something from a Jadorowsky film as he wailed, crooned and growled over snarling guitar work, sometimes accompanied by soft piano work that provided a nice juxtaposition.

Photo: Årabrot by Kevin Gaughan

When the headliners were finished setting up, it was clear they had an interesting stage set-up. Lead guitarist Wata used an E-bow on her guitar to draw out feedback and add extra layers to drone sections, while Takeshi wielded an impressive double-necked rhythm/bass guitar that looked as heavy as it sounded. Then there was drummer Atsuo, whose drumkit was overshadowed by a huge gong.

Photo: Boris by Kevin Gaughan

All three members also provided vocals in both English and Japanese; with Wata adding a softer, more feminine tone that contrasted with Takeshi’s harsher singing. Meanwhile, Atsuo’s yelling took on an almost theatrical quality at times, occasionally punctuated with gong splashes.

Most of their set consisted of tracks from their latest album, Love & Evol, which is among the darker and more dissonant side of their discography with a couple of welcome post-rock moments sprinkled throughout, plus a suitably sludgy cover of the Melvins track that inspired their name.

Photo: Boris by Kevin Gaughan

It’s rare to see a band with a work ethic as strong as Boris. Not only do they put a lot of effort into writing and recording their famously eclectic music but they’re also touring fairly often. Hopefully their next UK trip includes another visit to Leicester.

Click here to see Boris perform live at the gig.

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