Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 26/03/2012 | Boat To Row – The Slaughtered Lamb, London

26/03/2012 | Boat To Row – The Slaughtered Lamb, London

Lisa Ward


Having seen Boat To Row at Dot To Dot a few years back, I was instantly drawn in by the harmonies and ability to make a wonderful folk sound, with layers of variation. Some of this was fuelled by the boy/girl dynamic on the vocals, sounds blending and bouncing off one another throughout their set. With this in mind, I’m somewhat dismayed tonight to see this is lacking, the 5 piece stripped back to 3.

Nevertheless opener Freedom led by the banjo and a shaker in place of drums is instantly likable, reminiscent of Mumford and Sons with a little bit more edge. Meanwhile the newly written Dreaming Wild Flowers with its plucked mandolin is one of the best songs of the set, and it’s easy to imagine that this would be further amplified with the addition of a sweeping violin.

Elsewhere title track of the new EP Grassmarket is an instant charmer, and despite Michael’s guitar blowing part way through, they never miss a beat. That being said, despite a near perfect set, Field Mouse falls just fractionally flat, missing the banjo to breathe life into the melodies. Still, it seems Boat To Row continue to grow from strength to strength, leaving me baffled as to why they’re still unsigned.

More than anything however, it’s clear that the stripped back line up though sympathetic to the venue (and its lack of space), doesn’t showcase the band as much as it could and it’s this, rather than any fault with their music which leaves tonight just a little lacking. The sweeping violins, edge of the drums and layered harmonies are the very things which differentiate Boat To Row from many other bands, and whilst tonight they’re solid, they miss a certain spark.