Bouvier/ The Furious Sleep @ The Talbot Hotel, Stoke
(6th February 2004)

So John, who runs the musicroom nights at The Talbot in Stoke, he said to me, while we were standing watching the first live set in twenty years by the Fabulous Nobody, would I like to pick a couple of bands for a Robots night in a couple of months, this was back in December last year. So I said of course, you would wouldn't you, without thinking about it, while The Fabulous Nobody crooned and tuned, no problem and we shook hands and that was that.

So Bouvier and The Furious Sleep, who both rock hard in a hard rock town - that's Cambridge to you and me - were contacted, we've spoken before so it wasn't like I had to tell them who I was and establish bona fides, and they said of course, you would wouldn't you, and we shook hands and that was that.

So then a couple of months later I'm in Stoke and Donna Donnelly had to work a full day so we set off late and we've only just got here in time but it seems like everything went as well as it could possibly have done because Bouvier are off after a curry and The Furious Sleep are taking the piss out of my silver RoboStand and I could do with a pint.

So if I'm sounding a bit breathless it's because we were never quite sure it was going to happen, all on a couple of handshakes like we do everything here, and because the whole thing seemed to fly by in a couple of minutes and before we know it we're driving back to Cambridge, RoboStand in back.

So we'll turn the clock back and let the ones who were focussed tell us how it was. The Furious Sleep on Bouvier and, first, Bouvier on The Furious Sleep.

The Furious Sleep (by Rosey)

It was an uncanny piece of synchronicity when JP asked us to play Stoke: we'd been looking for a gig up in Chris's hometown and discussing the idea of a mini-tour with The Furious Sleep for a while. See, Bouvier and The Sleep are old friends, linked by houseshares, romances and a love of Classic Rock.

They looked pretty snoozy when they arrived at The Talbot, but perked up once the bar opened and they'd had some chips, and they were certainly ready to rock by the time they took the stage. I confess that by this point I'd had a few vodkas to steady my own nerves and was deep in conversation with Adrian about David Icke, however the call of rock was too great for me, like the sea to the moon it was.

Tonight The Furious Sleep were on fire, together and loving it, like scouts who've been caught smoking dope in the woods on camp. It's so good to see a band who are so ganglike, this is how rock should be, my gang versus your gang and my brother's bigger than yours and let's meet on the tennis courts after for a Crossroads-style rock-off (I'm not talking about Jane Asher here). These boys play longer and harder songs with more fiddly bits than your average rock 'n' roll bear, and with a truer fervour of passion too. They have studied their rock (I've seen their CVs) and united the brutality of punk with the bombast of prog.Yes! Together at last! The poles are reconciled. Bet old John Lydon is turning in his jungle bunk.

Dave is a phenomenal guitarist, surprising on the fret board. His fingers strutting and arrogant, his licks jump around corners, like little demons catapulting you from chimerical Cambridge idyll to Hammer Horror in a single flick of the wrist. Akin to Dr Who, it is the the cosiness of the scene being invaded by the unknown that is so unsettling and makes the songs so satisfying. Jake's vocals are raw and angry, he must need shitloads of cough medicine, but his falsetto in Headaches for Heartaches is pure and makes me grin with delight, I wish he'd use it more. He regales us with stories of a werewolf eating its boss, the theft of a tofu sandwich and of how, when they set of for Stoke, they could hear a buzzing noise. They searched for nigh on half an hour only to discover it was Jake's electric toothbrush. Here is a band who are loud and graceful, personable and rough: together they are wild stallions!

Bouvier (by Jake)

Watching Bouvier entertaining this Stoke crowd, I can't help but think of the first time I saw them play. Ahhh, Cambridge's Strawberry Fair, just as day was changing to evening, in a yellow and red circus tent no less. Even then they still had the same delightful ingredients. The melodies, the rise and fall, the stop starts, and the wit. The differences being that this was the Bouvier that you couldn't make eye contact with the (then) bass player without making her fumble her note. This was the Bouvier with the drummer who had great ideas for fills, and he almost pulled them off. This was the Bouvier with the singer who looked and sounded a bit crazy, but who clung on to her mic stand for dear life. It was even the Bouvier who my house mate played guitar for, looking at his feet as he struck another strange chord.

Back to tonight though, and the Bouvier on this stage have a full diploma (with honours) in Rock. Long gone are the nerves, and insecurities. This Bouvier is full force rocking machine. It's knowing the growth in these guys that makes a performance like this all the more satisfying. It's all there now. Everything has clicked into place. Each member knows their part and plays it to perfection. Ringing the life out of one great song after another. No fillers here. Just lots of well crafted evil pop songs, with huge choruses, to get even the most saintly singing along. Unlike Big Black, when these guys get to put an album out they could justifiably call it Songs About Fucking. Lyrically and musically there's a lot of bump and grind going on!

Just when we think it's all over they even treat us to an encore. A magnificent battering of their behemoth The Cleansing Fire of Rock. After these crashing guitars, pounding drums, and three part harmony shouts, we don't need anymore. No song could follow that, and I'm sure there were quite a few souls saved by rock n roll tonight.

Read about the first half of the gig here.

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