Live Review: Black Honey - Electric Ballroom, London 24/10/2018
Brighton’s indie quartet Black Honey have just played their biggest show to date, at Camden’s Electric Ballroom and I can honestly say that I’m surprised it has taken them four years to get to this point. Black Honey are in full control creative control – which in a world of dodgy labels, marketing ploys and the pretense of social media, is completely refreshing.
Most interesting about this, is that it has been their decision to stay independent, this whole time. Black Honey seem to be the kind of band that put careful thought into everything they do, before they do it. Take their music videos for example; having full creative direction allows them to create the idea of a Black Honey universe, which in turns gives us all a better idea of who they are. With a sound that ranges from indie rock to blues and rockabilly to disco pop, Black Honey’s live performance feels like you’re watching a live action soundtrack to a film that’s set in a motel that is rife with mischief and heartache.
‘I Only Hurt The Ones I Love’ opened up the scene for the evening, which is all western guitar and crooning blues vocals. What surprised me was the reaction from the crowd who were jumping around, so early on, after feeding off of the fast-driven pace that Black Honey were setting. Old favourites, ‘Madonna’ and ‘All My Pride’ gave the crowd the opportunity to sing their hearts out and with the effects of the psychedelic light show seeping in, I truly felt like I had been drawn in to the Black Honey universe. I began to notice that they seem to be playing roles, when on stage – frontwoman Izzy is all at once sassy and sweet, guitarist Chris and bassist Tommy are her wingmen that deliver swagger to counteract the sass and drummer Tom is the pillar that holds it all together.
Black Honey seemed to come into their own when it was time to play the first single from their self-titled debut album, ‘Bad Friends’ and their heartbreak hotel song ‘Dig’. Just when I start to think that they are going to breeze through the set without any interaction to the crowd, Izzy steals a breath to let the sea of faces who are in the palm of her hand know that their enjoyment isn’t going unnoticed; “Oh my god, Electric-fucking-Ballroom, you blow our fucking minds”. While there are moments where the image of a band feels incredibly false and ingenuine, you can tell that as whole Black Honey are really comfortable playing together and embrace a little bit of strange in their sound, which made it really touching as in between playing ‘Somebody Better’ and ‘Blue Romance', Izzy tells the crowd that “it’s okay to be a weirdo.”
‘Blue Romance’ and ‘Into The Nightmare’ were particular highlights of the night as that signature rockabilly sound that reminds me of The Cramps, filled the room with an eerie hum. When the crowd decided to create a circle pit, during the introduction of ‘Spinning Wheel’, Izzy took the bait and asked them to make it wider, but to make sure they “look after the girls in there.” As excitement took hold and you could tell that they were completely in their element, Izzy let slip that the band had just been confirmed to support a certain award winning North London grunge/rock band, though noting that she probably wasn’t allowed to say anything about it, I shall not giveaway their name.
Going from strength to strength and playing a solid mix of songs from their back catalogue, “Hello Today” and “Corrine” made way to the last song of the evening. Izzy tried to crowd surf, but it went slightly awry and the security guard put her back on stage. Amusingly, and in what seems like disbelief of his actions, Izzy asked the crowd if they wanted him to put her back, to which there was a roar of applause. What is great about Black Honey is there is no kind of pretense. They let their songs do all of the talking because they are more than good enough to stand out on their own without being gimmicky. They also “don’t believe in encores” which is incredibly refreshing, as I feel like the predictability of encores has led to some very disappointing live shows. Keeping the right balance of giving the crowd everything they want and also making them want more, Black Honey finished the night with the disco-laden ironic song ‘Midnight’ and had their support acts storm the stage for a late-night boogie.
If you missed Black Honey on their UK tour, you can still catch them at a few dates around Europe at the start of November.
Words by Tyler Damara Kelly and Photography by Jordan Logan