Boyce Avenue + Martha Phillips @ O2 Institute, 7 November 2017

US band Boyce Avenue, originally from Florida, is made up of brothers Alejandro (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Fabian (guitar, vocals) and Daniel (bass, percussion, vocals) Manzano. They are currently certified the world’s biggest independent band after leaving their record label in 2011 and gaining over 3 billion video views on YouTube.

Supporting Boyce Avenue was northern singer/songwriter Martha Phillips who also fronts alt-rock band The Elephant Trees. It’s been a big year for Martha as she was shortlisted for Fender UK’s Undiscovered Artist of the Year. Her solo set showed off the stunning tone of her voice which could rival Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine and Hannah Reid from London Grammar. It’s her voice that sets her apart from the influx of other singer/songwriters currently on the music circuit.

Much of Martha’s set was built up using a loop pedal in a similar style to that made popular by Ed Sheeran. The highlights were an acoustic version of The Elephant Trees latest single Monster, and Martha’s version of You Got the Love by Candi Staton which she really made her own.

Far from engaging in family bust-ups, Alejandro, Fabian and Daniel have a great chemistry and seem to genuinely enjoy playing together. They were joined by drummer and friend Jason Burrows for the majority of the set.

The band played a 22-song set consisting of both covers and originals from across their three full albums. The sound quality was the best I’ve heard at the Institute and perfectly highlighted the vocal awesomeness of Alejandro. Of the originals the highlights were the picky Cinderella and Be Somebody, both from Road Less Traveled.

The band’s covers are generally acoustic arrangements of popular songs – anything from Use Somebody by The Kings of Leon to Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. These stripped-down versions give listeners the chance to appreciate the raw structure of the songs. Alejandro took to the stage solo to cover fan favourites A Thousand Years by Christina Perri and Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur. This quieter moment perfectly complemented the stage lighting which was made to look candlelit.

The band  tapped into a heavier territory to cover songs such as Everlong by Foo Fighters and Dream On by Aerosmith, as well as their own When the Lights Die. They executed these songs really well and Dream On was one of the highlights of the evening, providing the chance for each member of the band to show off what they do best.

Between Fabian and Alejandro the band have a beautiful collection of guitars, and Alejandro actually used a different one for each of the first four songs! Fabian’s set up allowed him to produce some great guitar effects and multi-talented Daniel covered a variety of different instruments including bass, cajon, and even the ukulele during the encore for Ride the Wave from current album Road Less Traveled.

Saving the best to last, the band had the whole crowd singing along during the last two songs – their cover of Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris and their own Anchors, with which they closed the show.

Overall the set was polished, passionate and peppy, so it was a shame that the show hadn’t sold out.


Set List

  1. I’ll Be the One
  2. Yellow (Coldplay cover)
  3. Imperfect Me
  4. One Life
  5. Everlong (Foo Fighters cover)
  6. Cinderella
  7. A Thousand Years (Christina Perri cover)
  8. Say You Won’t Let Go (James Arthur cover)
  9. Broken Angel
  10. Torn (Natalie Imbruglia cover)
  11. Castle on the Hill (Ed Sheeran cover)
  12. Every Breath
  13. Use Somebody (Kings of Leon cover)
  14. Pick Yourself Back Up Again
  15. On My Way
  16. Fast Car (Tracy Chapman cover)
  17. Be Somebody
  18. Dream On (Aerosmith cover)
  19. When the Lights Die


  1. Ride the Wave
  2. Iris (Goo Goo Dolls cover)
  3. Anchor



Reviewer : Chrissie Duxson

Photographer: Chris Bowley

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