Black Honey – Concorde 2, Brighton – 14th October 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

“We never thought we’d get to play venues like this as an unsigned band” stated Izzy Phillips on Black Honey’s momentous, celebratory homecoming show at Concorde 2. It’s funny, really, because the moment we first discovered the band – which is well over four years ago now – we knew they were destined for great things. Their Concorde 2 show, too, was arguably the best they’ve ever been. Dramatic and cinematic, with a set-list covering early singles as well as fresh album cuts, it was, without a doubt, the most euphoric show of the year. If you were in any doubt that Black Honey were the real deal, then this show, which boasted incredible lighting and a Twin Peaks-style backdrop, would convince you in a heartbeat.

Both support bands helped kickstart a thrilling night of dramatic rock and roll, too. Russo, fronted by the magnetising Cailin Russo, prompted and provoked the crowd into an incendiary reaction – not that they needed it. With songs such as the quite frankly brilliant ‘Bad Things’, Russo are a dynamic outfit that look like they could well be worthy successors to the likes of Black Honey and Dream Wife – who they’ve just supported on their US tour.

Likewise, Manchester band PINS, boasting a new line-up since the last time we saw them, exhibited a very impressive account of themselves. Leaving out the majority of their well-known songs (‘LUVU4LYF’ and ‘Get With Me’, for example), this feels like a new era for the band which they’re duly thriving under. With lead singer Faith Vern’s trademark spirited and powerful display, the band look like they’re back onto a winner.

This night was all about Black Honey, however, and from the opening notes of ‘I Only Hurt the Ones I Love’ it was a clinical and cerebral set showcasing just how many hits the band have. Quickly followed-up by 2015 single ‘Madonna’, it was clear to see that these fans have been there from very early on, and the band rewarded their loyalty with a thrilling display. With the likes of ‘Corrine’ and ‘All My Pride’ dropped mid-set for good measure, too, Black Honey obviously haven’t forgotten their musical roots.

Of course, this was an album tour and, as such, the band showcased their remarkable debut in some style. Album cuts ‘Crowded City’ and ‘Baby’, in particular, display the softer side to the band. With beautiful swirling lighting covering every inch of Concorde 2, and Phillips’ beautifully cinematic voice reaching every corner, it was impossible not to be immersed into the theatrical world of Black Honey.

There’s an iconic sense of both relatability and otherworldliness to Black Honey, as if the band are caricatures in their own stylised world. Whether this is the extreme genre mis-matches – moving from the hip-hop style beats of ‘Bad Friends’ to the out-and-out disco banger ‘Midnight’ in a heartbeat – or the Americana, prom-style set design, there’s an exaggerated, postmodern feeling to a Black Honey gig that you simply don’t find anywhere else. This was a beautiful moment, and frankly, it couldn’t happen to a more hard-working and talented band. As Brighton gigs go, this is going to take some beating!

Liam McMillen