Chaplin’s, Cellar Bar, Boscombe

Xander And The Keys

It has been a good few months, possibly a year since my last Xander gig. So with the start of a Bank Holiday Weekend; where better to be than down the Cellar, watching one of our town’s finest bands. Scheduled support Creeke haven’t shown up so The Keys are allotted a double set. Fleshed out with covers, one band in particular and step forward Xander and the Leon! Joking aside tonight’s performance reiterated what I already knew, that these guys continue to be one of our better local acts.

As they head for the stage soundman Conrad is noticeable by his absence. The band jam away until he returns – and when he does he receives the biggest cheer of the night. Soundman back in the room they open with “Get Over Here”. Despite Xander being the focal point in the band, it’s their lead guitarist Dan who takes centre stage tonight. “Different Lies” precedes their now legendary take on the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams”. It would be too easy to be just another run of the mill covers band, banging them out close to the original. But how they have approached this song, in particular, makes me realise they are a cut above.

My favourite, and possibly their best original composition comes next in the form of “She Hates Punk”. A true story maybe but (to me) an all too familiar subject matter. Xander sings with gusto and tonight I am aware of one or two Joe Strummer mannerisms. It’s subtle, maybe not deliberate – but effective. ‘New Shoe Box’ holds my attention further before again, another fine take on Green Day’s “Hitchin’ a Ride”. Back to the originals they deliver “Spring” before; yeah you guessed it, another Kings of Leon cover with “On Call”. Xander’s passion for the aforementioned songs shows no let-up tonight and they follow this with two originals before taking a break. “Faux Embrace” is great while “Shivers” as always doesn’t disappoint.

Xander And The Keys
Xander And The Keys 1234567

Tonight’s set is heavy on the Kings of Leon covers – no shame in that, clearly Xander is a massive fan and wears his influences on his sleeves. Set two opens with “Long Drive”; Dan (lead guitar) continues to take centre stage, taking regular plaudits from Xander while grinning like a Cheshire cat. Not to be outdone James (bass) takes it upon himself to become chief shapeshifter tonight; sometimes standing, sometimes sitting and altogether making his presence known. “Children” precedes another couple of Kings of Leon favourites and Xander is now totally in his zone. Not forgetting Richard (drums}; nestled in the background, keeping the beat. “Cigarette Blues” and “Can’t Feel My Face” are great but there is little to fault here. “Showdown” is just a prelude to the excellent Jamie T cover “Sheila”, which they extend into a jam in the bridge and mix it up throughout. With a bus to catch I call it a night but only miss a couple of songs.

In short, Xander and the Keys continue to prove they are one of the Premier acts in this town. Their ability to write classic Indie/Rock originals, whilst having fun with their chosen covers is a feat in itself. I look forward to their continued growth, glad I can still enjoy them in an intimate setting.

Set One
Get Over Here
Different Lies
Sweet Dreams are Made of This (Eurythmics)
She Hates Punk
New Shoebox
Hitchin’ a Ride (Green Day)
On Call (Kings of Leon)
Faux Embrace

Set Two
Long Drive
Used to the Noise
Red Morning Light (Kings of Leon)
Milk (Kinks of Leon)
Cigarette Blues
Can’t Feel my Face (The Weekend)
Sheila (Jamie T)
Morning Light
New Shoebox


Review, Pictures and Videos by Ross A. Ferrone.

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