Black Honey are doing incredibly well for a band without a debut album and only a series of singles and EP’s released. Their edge is that each one of their releases so far have been absolute gems. It’s fitting then that their tiny sold-out show in one of Manchester’s most prestigious homes of alternative rock, The Ruby Lounge, is equally as impressive, intimate and furiously energetic.
The nights opened up by Essex punk rock three-piece FREAK, who put on a particularly impressive performance. Sounding like the unholy offspring of Slaves and Drenge, FREAK bring an immediate energy and urgency to the stage. The young crowd in attendance for the night are prime receptors for FREAK’s energy. Plus the hooky choruses and riffs that we’re still trying to get out of heads days after the gig are a nice memento. With their new single I Like to Smile When I’m Sad sounding as good as it does, plus an entire EP of brilliant material released just a few days ago (review coming soon), you can expect to hear a lot more about FREAK both here and anywhere else where they have a half decent music taste.
Where FREAK appeal to the darker, ‘punkier’ side of Black Honey’s fans, they’re followed by K.I.D who appeal to the pop side. Their opening to a recording of a phone call involving wine, porno, blow and anxiety pretty much sets the tone for the rest of their set. An eclectic mix of influences follows that don’t always gel perfectly. The addition of a multimedia screen displaying artwork with their tracks is a nice touch and tracks like I Cannot Sleep at Night benefit from the louder bass lines that help bridge the gap from the FREAK set the audience had just witnessed. Front-woman Kara Lane is particularly captivating in her laid back approach, casting a piercing gaze across the audience throughout their set. Their porno and masturbation references might go down well with a different crowd, but in a room of Black Honey fans, it doesn’t quite match up.
The sold out venue seems particularly densely packed by the time Black Honey take to the stage. It’s an energetic crowd as well, and by the band’s third track most of the front half of the venue is bouncing to the four piece. The real sell here is hearing the highlights of Black Honey’s back catalogue. With the band releasing their tracks by singles and EP’s, it can be easy to forget just how many crowd-pleasing anthems they have in their arsenal. From the slowed down Cadillac released earlier this month, to the roaring sing-alongs of Corrine and Headspin, their set is a reflection of what we could expect from a complete debut album from Black Honey, and we like what we hear.
There’s just enough interaction with the crowd throughout the set to make it feel personal without giving the set a disjointed feel and instructed sing-alongs are spread out through the night. The latter might be pushed a little too far on one or two tracks but it’s a minor notch on an otherwise glowing performance.
The real miracle is how Black Honey are still playing to tiny venues like this with so many amazing tracks. They have at least a full album’s worth of brilliant content, and when a debut is finally released, we have a feeling that we’re going to be attending some much larger capacity venues for Black Honey gigs. Make sure you enjoy being this close to them live while you still can.