Black Honey have a lot to be frustrated about. They’ve not been able to play a gig to celebrate their top-10 charting second album ‘Written & Directed’ having come out in March and their busy run of July festivals has been reduced to a single appearance at Latitude. Tonight’s gig at Pryzm was meant to be a return to chaotic normality but thanks to the delayed reopening of music venues, it’s been rejigged to be a socially-distanced affair. And to make matters worse, guitarist Chris Ostler scolded his hand, his fingers a mess of blisters.
Using all that frustration as fuel for the fire, Black Honey are at their snarling best tonight. In their early days, the Brighton-based four-piece stuck to cinematic indie-rock, while their 2018 self-titled debut album was a leap into guitar-driven pop. ‘Written & Directed’ tackled everything from Britpop (‘Believer’) to grunge (‘I Do It To Myself’) but tonight finds Black Honey as a blistering – sorry, Chris – rock’n’roll group. They’re loud and raucous, and despite all the safety precautions, it feels dangerous.
Yes, they walk onstage to Whigfield’s disco classic ‘Saturday Night’, but the moment they launch into the moody desert rock stomp of ‘I Like The Way You Die’, it’s obvious the band mean business. From the groovy surf rock of ‘Beaches’, through the familiar roar of ‘All My Pride’, the band sound viciously tight.
“This is the most polite thing ever – it feels like I’m meeting your parents for the first time,” grins vocalist Izzy B. Phillips before the menacing frenzy of ‘Disinfect’ quickly puts a stop to any manners. It’s so heavy, it’s surprising Black Honey weren’t booked for the Download pilot last weekend. Even the slow-burning ‘Corrine’ wastes no time in showing its teeth. “Nothing is more important that togetherness; for anyone that’s really struggled in lockdown, this is for you,” adds Phillips mid-song.
Tonight, she says, “is a fantasy we’ve been dreaming of for 16 months”, and despite all the setbacks, Black Honey look like a band unleashed. Philips fights back tears before the ferocious close of ‘Run For Cover’ and, true to form, her microphone breaks in the middle of the song. Clearly expecting the worst, she doesn’t skip a beat and finds a spare. Turns out you really can’t keep a great band down.
Black Honey played:
‘I Like The Way You Die’
‘All My Pride’
‘I Do It To Myself’
‘Back of The Bar’
‘Run For Cover’