The Ballroom Thieves deliver emotional performance at the Royale and return to their Boston roots to close out a pivotal year.  

12/29/18 – Royale Boston

The audience was singing loudly to “Home For The Holidays” as the Ballroom Thieves took the stage, clad in velvet and Hawaiian print for their annual Home for the Holidays show at the the Royale.

And it was a homecoming for the wayward sons Devin Mauch, Martin Earley, and Callie Peters, the Stonehill and Berklee alums who just returned from a 10-month national tour after signing to label Nettwerk last November. The scene felt vaguely reminiscent of early Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Hometown Throwdown” shows – the local pride, the familial feel set by the living room on the stage and the promise of a lusty set from Earley “that the band was going to lay it all out” for their fans. It was their last show of the year, they were home and dammit, they had until 9:30 PM before The Royale was flipped to a dance club.  

Peters arrived on the stage like a gale-force wind; she is small but fierce and commands the cello that is taller than her. She is classically trained on the instrument, but decidedly brings her own spin on it. One almost needs to bear witness to it to understand her style and command. Her delicate hands fluttered over the cello like a butterfly while she brought down all the fury in her soul through the bow.  Like Moses, she parted the crowd and asked tall people to move to the side so those under 5’5” could see her perform the ballad “Trouble.”

An extraordinary thing about seeing a full Thieves set is how much there is to take in. In addition to playing cello, Peters also plays a Les Paul bass. Earley, who sings lead on many of the songs is also the lead guitarist and lyric writer. Both the angel and the devil on your shoulder, he is a force to be reckoned with. Onstage that night, he ranged from soft and melancholy on his live version of  “Bees”–a departure from how it is performed on their album but more true to the lyrics, which drop clever wisdom about a struggling relationship. At times he also performed primally, such as on songs like the parable “Wolf” and the love song “Fistfight,” melodically growling out clever lyrics “I am the worst kind, I am your dark sky / Or maybe I love you or maybe I don’t.”

Mauch, from his position on the drums, took lead on vocals and delivered an emotional performance of “My Backwards Walk” by Frightened Rabbit. Managing drums and lyrics is no small feat but the band really interpreted the song as their own, and Mauch’s passion clearly shone through on this forlorn song of not being able to let love go. This was the song Mauch chose for the bands Covers EP and was a beautiful way to honor one of his favorite bands and their lead singer, the late Scott Hutchison, as reported last November.  

The band closed with an a capella version of “Sea Legs.” Gathered around the microphone, the trio crooned in perfect harmony “You will be humming my last words.” And the audience did, all the way home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.