wed 22/11/2017

Black Honey, Concorde 2, Brighton | reviews, news & interviews

Black Honey, Concorde 2, Brighton

Black Honey, Concorde 2, Brighton

Rising indie pop stars return home

100% gunning for the old rock'n'roll cool

The first thing that hits me as I walk into Concorde 2 is the age and energy of the audience, dominated by excitable booze-fuelled teenagers. Black Honey themselves are pretty young for a band capable of quickly selling out a 600-capacity venue, with the singer noting that “it feels like just yesterday we played here and couldn’t sell two tickets”. Their following has grown steadily over the last few years, thanks to their accessible pop singles and constant comparisons to Lana Del Rey and Lush. Now, it seems that just about everyone in Brighton wants a ticket to see them.

First, however, are support band Superego, whose psych-lite shoegaze garners a very good reaction from the crowd; understandable, given they sound like a fuzzier male-fronted version of Black Honey. Despite being in the indie-psych vein inhabited by a lot of young upcoming bands, they do what they do well, using walls of sound and rolling drums to solid effect.

The problem isn’t with the band so much as the sound

Freak, on the other hand, are surprisingly more controversial, despite playing relatively inoffensive Royal Blood-inspired rock. While the younger mosh-happy members of the audience throw themselves into cheering along to their songs - most of which revolve around not caring about something or other -  the more veteran gig-goers seem generally less impressed. Even a well-executed cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” fails to move the back half of the room.

And then, following a fine selection of post-2000 indie played over the soundsystem and a lengthy string introduction, Black Honey take to the stage to rapturous applause. With a retro glowing sign to their left and the whole audience in the palm of their hand, they start to play… and fall frustratingly flat.

The problem isn’t with the band so much as the sound. This is one of the rare occasions that a quieter bass would improve a gig; where songs such as “All My Pride” and “Teenager” should explode, the bass overrides all else, undermining the vocals and all-but obliterating the summery, dream-pop vibe Black Honey have become well liked for.

The flip side of this, however, means that quieter songs - most notably the relaxed “Sleep Forever” and acoustic “Cadillac” - have a more haunting quality, with singer Izzy Baxter’s shining voice finally matching her Bond Girl/Tarantino star aesthetic. On “Sleep Forever” especially, the vocals are dripping with seduction and charm. “Brighton...,” she coos, “you know what to do!”, and the audience does, going crazy when she asks and (aside from a few staunchly unbent legs) happily crouching on the floor whilst she lectures about “fuckboys” and self-image.

The guitar-playing that does make it through the muddy mix is spindly and Morricone-esque, taking new single “Someone Better” into the Noughties indie territory inhabited by Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes, while the shimmery tambourines and hi-hats driving the drums add to the sunny feel of the band.

There’s no doubt that Black Honey are very good at what they do, but the poor sound haunting their set unfortunately stops them from fully taking off this time. Not that their devoted fans seem to mind.

Watch the video for "Hello Today" by Black Honey

The flip side of this, however, means that quieter songs have a more haunting quality

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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