I chuckled to myself as the gentleman next to me inserted ear plugs before Jonathan Boulet and his band took to the stage at the Sebright Arms last night. Surely this one off London show wasn’t to scale the same audible heights as AC\DC’s decibel breaking ‘Back in Black’ tour or even Motorhead, whose sets are so loud their tour t-shirts read ‘Everything louder than everyone else’. No, this was Australian singer-songwriter Jonathan Boulet, the thin lean purveyor of indie-pop, who until now had been stood silently occasionally sipping his water and watching the excellent support band Goodnight Lenin. His previous indie-pop blend couldn’t produce anywhere near the explosion of sound associated with the previously mentioned acts.
How very wrong I was.
Boulet has a new sound that is brash and unrestrained. All elements of his previous releases are gone and there is not even the slightest hint of the electronic experimentation from his 2009 self-titled LP. In their place are the loudest and most glorious distorted guitars, screaming vocals and frenzied drumming one could wish for. Tinges of envy towards the ear plug wearing fan were now very evident.
Boulet’s latest album ‘Gubba’ was a massive change in direction. His reinvention in digital and vinyl form was impressive enough but performed live the tracks resemble an altogether different beast. The set was a wild demonstration of an artist brimming with confidence after emerging from his rock-ladened cocoon. ‘High Five Guy’, ‘Is Anybody Dooming’ and ‘Hold It Down’ were simply stunning and album favourite ‘Alright’ should have been enough to convert those fans who were expecting a trip down memory lane. I would suspect the Sebright has never seen a set of such velocity and resonance.
We were treated to an unexpected cover of Tammy Wynettes ‘Stand by Your Man’ and for those few minutes there was a calm that enabled our bleeding ear drums to recover. However, the moment was short-lived and to be honest the devilish side of me welcomed back the chaos of ‘Gubba’.
This new Jonathan Boulet sound is alive and well. In fact, one hopes it’s here for the long haul.