"This whole tour has taught us that even friendships that seem like they died 20 years ago can come back in full force and be stronger than ever": Farewell once again Botch, and thanks for the memories

Botch blow minds at their first, and last, reunion show in London, at a sold-out Electric Ballroom

(Image: © Ryan Russell)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

"Who here saw us 20 years ago?" asks Botch vocalist Dave Verellen, taking a moment to take stock in-between songs. A few hands are raised among the sold-out 1,500 -strong crowd.

"Cool," Verellen says. "How are your kids doing?"

It's a nod to the fact that the Tacoma, Washington mathcore trailblazers know that it's been considerably more than a hot minute since they last graced us with their presence, and no, we won't be dwelling on that.

What we get instead is an 85-minute headline set that's mercilessly tight and flawlessly executed. Because Botch know how to put on a show. Opener To Our Friends in the Great White North arrives with a flurry of battering strobes and bright white spotlights dancing left to right, making it hard to focus but impossible to look away. As they proceed to pick their way through favourites from all of American Nervoso, An Anthology of Dead Ends and We Are the Romans, they soak themselves in smoke and an amber glow before cooling off with the interlocking blue beams that illuminate Afghamistam's careful, quiet wandering.

The heavier moments – of which there are many – awaken the kind of crowd movement you don't normally get out of punks past 35, with Hutton's Great Heat Engine sparking a surge into the home straight that encourages everybody in the building to cling onto what's happening. Not long after that it's over and all that's left to do is exchange stunned, near-wordless glances when the houselights come up. 

If these plaudits seem inevitable, it's worth noting that a Botch reunion that delivered on its promise was far from a foregone conclusion. American Nightmare played a comeback gig in this same venue that was one to forget. Cave In were never quite the same after an ill-judged major label foray, perhaps showing us one of the fates Botch avoided by punching the self-destruct button in their prime. This is their first and last reunion tour, something that feels as stubbornly but pleasingly 'them' as anything else.

"This whole tour has taught us that even friendships that seem like they died 20 years ago can come back in full force and be stronger than ever," says guitarist Dave Knudson, when asked by Louder post-show to reflect on this final run of dates. "The bond that this music has forged between us is something that is completely unique to us and the four of us alone."

As ever, it was a privilege to watch Botch do things on their own terms.

A long-time contributor to Kerrang! and feature writer for Noisey, Fightland and more, punk rock lifer Alistair Lawrence wrote the acclaimed Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World in 2012. Hopefully Ridley Scott will forgive him for accidentally blanking him in one of the studio’s hallways, should they ever meet again.