There's no doubt I live in a musical bubble revolving around Mudkiss and 6 music. Expecting to arrive at yet another fabulous Manchester venue The Night and Day Cafe, fight my way through crowds to reach the front, I find the venue strangely muted. The atmosphere although fitting from the Cafe aspect, doesn't fit my idea of a gig, especially by the great Tom Williams and the Boat. A realisation suddenly hits, as Tom also refers in our interview the following morning, relatively not many people listen to 6 music and apart from London, the size of audience here tonight is reasonably typical of a Boat show, with perhaps around fifty people attending. It's quality not quantity on occasions however which counts, tonight revealing out of those fifty, two just happen to be Johnny Marr and Ed O'Brien!! Tom admitted to being slightly nervous playing in front of them and who can blame him.
I miss the support acts, (one being J. Marr's son) instead, over at The Academy 3 earlier for Kvelertak so it's immediately into The Boat. Although all sat at the round tables, I fully expect a small surge of people to the stage as the strains of next single "Concentrate" open, but no, everyone appears blissfully happy seated and the band also appear nonplussed, delivering a very dark, intense and at times blistering set. I'm awaiting a live collection of songs taken purely from the debut album "Too Slow," "90mph" second song of the set adding weight to the case, although it quickly transpires the band have other ideas. We're treated to four new songs, all of which possess differing sinister levels, especially "A Little Bit of Me" delivered in a passionate and powerful manner. The new material outlines Tom and Williams and the Boat continue to move away from the folk roots I first heard while supporting Stornoway. They are a completely different beast now and ultimately all the better for it.
As expected, the crowd pleasers are saved until the finale, an absolutely searing "See My Evil" with Ant on lead guitar's rock influences being particularly apparent as he and Tom thrash the song to a close. "Get Older" closes an encore free set, highlighting the tightness of the band, with the rests and gap at the end executed to absolute perfection. Tom's vocal performance throughout is breathtaking, spitting lines out with venom and he certainly appears drained as the band leave the stage. I genuinely believe Tom Williams and the Boat are one of the U.K’s brightest lights, fabulous songs, brilliantly played with insightful lyrics. They really deserve to be attracting much larger audiences than tonight.