REVIEW: Boat to Row @ The Rainbow, 22nd May ‘15

Boat to Row

Words by Ceri Black / Images courtesy of Boat to Row & Birmingham Promoters

Initially founded in 2009 as a solo project, Boat to Row have evolved into a band with an impressive live reputation – bringing this evening’s harmonious tones to the The Rainbow in Digbeth.

Tonight’s venue, one of the few to be found under The Rainbow, is fairly low key. Tucked away behind the main bar, the room itself is simple and small with a humble stage. Almost the opposite of the sort of music Boat to Row produce. Surmised as ‘simply wonderful’ by Janice Long, who’s Boat to Row logo - croppedlistened to a few bands in her time, I have high expectations for the Birmingham based quintet this evening.

With all five members each playing multiple instruments throughout the set, Boat to Row create intricate songs. Combining strings with near to perfect vocal harmonies, many of their songs are epic and energetic tales that lead singer, Michael King, faultlessly reveals to the audience.

Songs such as ‘A Boat to Row, To Row to You’ and ‘Grassmarket’ use guitar riffs and simple drum beats to construct strong and emotive sounds – captivating tonight’s small yet intimate audience. The introduction of a violin into many of their songs also helps to tie up the complexity of their Birmingham Promoterssound.

But it is clear by watching Boat to Row that they are more than just a Folk band. They are, over and above, a group of friends that play with undeniably chemistry; an element of which is also reflected in tonight’s crowd. As the set continues it becomes clear that many of the fans are friends, and as words get exchanged between the stage and audience the atmosphere further relaxes.

Boat to Row round off their set with a beautifully simple version of ‘Heavy Was the Night.’ Here the audience see each member around a microphone, executing an almost hypnotic, definitely passionate song – perfectly ending tonight’s poetic and laid back performance.

For more from Boat to Row, visit


For more from The Rainbow Venues, visit

For more from Birmingham Promoters, visit

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