With the headliner offering a pre-show masterclass, tonight’s bill is only two deep, so Derange act as both opener and main support, and are in full swing as I enter an already well-attended room. It’s notable that no-one is outside taking a smoke break – everyone is in and most are watching.
Whilst their music isn’t quite to my taste, each of the four members is more than competent, and none moreso than singer Cat Pereira, whose fantastic range is complemented well by a few forays into heavier, harsher vocals. I understand that much of the material is drawn from their recently released debut album The Awakening, and the songs are thick and powerful – although perhaps a few too many solos for my liking. A well-executed cover of Tool‘s “Forty Six & 2” ends the set on a high.
Having caught guitarist Rabea, bassist Dave and drummer Ben’s other incarnation Toska earlier this year, and been absolutely blown away, the ability of the musicians was never in question, especially live. However, as Dorje, the added element of YouTube guitar sensation Rob Chapman adds an extra element of both intrigue and quality. I’m not familiar with his work – and he’s done a lot, from fronting the Glaxo Babies and The Transmitters in the 70s and 80s and writing for Mojo, to founding his own guitar company and offering guitar masterclasses on YouTube - but from the dozen or so spins I’ve given their new EP Catalyst over the past couple of weeks, it’s clear he’s a cherry on an already talented cake.
Equally comfortable with or without guitar – setting his instrument down a couple of times, including during EP opener “Written” – Rob is a genuine pleasure to be an audience for, never appearing at all into his own apparent skill, or indeed shy. Crowd interaction is light-hearted but sincere and it’s positively endearing.
Equally, each other member impresses in their own way, but as a unit they’re almost effortlessly precise. Grooves roll out and wash over the crowd out like boulders down a hill…and at times equally as heavy. The textures are gorgeous, even with the normally dodgy Boston Music Rooms’ sound, and there’s equal amounts of tonal lushness, virtuosity (Rabea; take a bow) and just fun. Dorje are fun.
Clearly not content resting on their new material, the band play an even newer song from a record due out next year. Talk about keen.
Whilst not packed, the crowd of 80ish are all pressed towards the front of the room, which is the surest sign that everyone is engaged throughout.
Dorje shouldn’t be playing rooms this size is for long. With Rob’s notoriety and the undeniable skill of everybody involved, larger acts would be well advised to pick these guys up as support in the new year.