Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Boy Least Likely To @ The Social, Nottingham

26 February 2006

In 2005, Wendover’s The Boy Least Likely To, a.k.a. Pete Hobbs and Jof Owen, released a debut record, The Best Party Ever, on their own label. Doing everything – from producing to distributing – on their own accord, they became one of the bigger word-of-mouth success stories of the year.

Now, as we move headlong into spring 2006, they’re nearing the end of their maiden, almost completely sold out, headline tour of the UK. And it doesn’t stop there – after this jaunt, they’re embarking on a lengthy tour of the States, which encompasses a performance at the famous South By Southwest music convention in Austin.

It seems that the duo are set to dramatically confound the humble expectations that their moniker would suggest – and if they continue to play gigs with such spirit and enthusiasm, as they did this evening in Nottingham, this should be no problem whatsoever.

After an entertaining support slot from Philadelphia collective B.C. Camplight, The Boy Least Likely To – Pete and Jof, as well five friends wielding a variety of instruments who would make up their backing band – took to the small stage of the crammed room, before careering directly into the infectiously joyous Hugging My Grudge. Each and every band member looked delighted to be there – Pete strummed furiously away on his acoustic guitar, Jof punched the air repeatedly as he was singing and the crowd couldn’t help themselves from joining the band on the chorus.

For those not au fait with their sound, this is incredibly upbeat, sun drenched, melodic, catchy, carefree, lo-fi, homespun pop very much in the vein of Belle And Sebastian, The Beach Boys and The Thrills.

Detractors may have a case in branding it a tad on the twee side (their artwork, replete with children’s drawings, certainly hints at this), but if you’re willing to forget your troubles momentarily and take it for what it is, The Boy Least Likely To’s music is never less than hugely enjoyable. And live, the songs are beefed up tremendously – which is no real surprise given the presence of an electric guitar, a bass, a couple of keyboards, backing vocals, a violin and a recorder. Hey, it could even be a poppier, cheerier Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene.

The rest of the 50-minute set certainly lived up to the early promise. Warm Panda Cola, despite lasting for just under a minute, was full of charm, whilst Monsters, one of their stronger numbers, sounded particularly fortified. One thing that is clear is that this is not a band at all short of memorable material, as the final two songs illustrated. I’m Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon To Your Star, somewhat contrary to its unwieldy title, is a perfectly concise, beautifully formed pop song with an utterly insistent refrain.

Be Gentle With Me, their current single, closed the set, as bubbles blown from a machine on stage turned the room into something of a children’s party. And by this time, not a soul in the building wasn’t grinning like a child on the last day of school. A qualified success, it would seem, as The Boy Least Likely To continue to imbed their brand of quaint pop into the minds of newly converted fans. America had best watch out.

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