Coming just the day after 700,000 people marched through the streets of London in hope of a Peoples’ Vote, it was impeccable timing that saw Black Peaks wrap up their tour in Worthing. All That Divides, their second release, sprang to life when the band found themselves abroad at the time of the Referendum. Perfectly capturing the confusion, shock and unsettling state that many felt at the time, it is a huge beast of a record and a strong contender for rock album of the year.
Why the Brighton band ended their tour in the complete sweatfest of the tiny Bar Fortytwo rather than a bigger venue in their hometown is a question for another day. There would be no shortage of takers for that show if it had taken place in Brighton, but in truth, the decision to hold it here instead made this show all the more special. With an official capacity of 120, the crowd stretches through two entire rooms, necks craning for a better view of what was to come. With support from fellow locals Kicking Graves and Watford’s Gold Key, the evening’s decibel levels are set to 11 straight from the off. The former have a pleasing QOTSA-style groove to them, while Gold Key ramp the angst up in preparation for the main event.
Bar Fortytwo has been quietly (loudly) gathering a reputation on the south coast for being a hub of punk and metal for a while now, but it’s unlikely to have had a night like this before. Riding the wave of critical acclaim for All That Divides, Black Peaks have emerged as one of the most exciting rock bands in the country. Packed closely together on that small stage, the power that emanated out from there passed through the crowd like nuclear shockwaves. At points having to move backwards to allow room for the twin threats of Joe Gosney (guitar) and Dave Larkin (bass) to shine, frontman Will Gardner nonetheless grabs the attention throughout. Opening with album highlight ‘Can’t Sleep’, there follows an hour of exceptionally hard-rocking anthems.
The band’s secret weapon is, not for the first time, drummer Liam Kearley, whose thumping beats and propulsive style is the engine that drives the whole show to rare heights. At times lifting out of his seat through sheer power, it is an incredible performance – and one that feeds through to the audience. The whole show feels like a celebration throughout, the band grinning all night long – especially as Gardner asks for a circle pit, but receives something more like hamsters on a wheel due to the lack of space on offer.
With only a handful of tracks played from their debut, Statues, the night belongs to All That Divides, as it should. Tonight was a fitting demonstration of the power of the record, but just as interestingly perhaps, it showed the importance of supporting your local venue. With Sticky Mike’s closing in the New Year, these venues will become more and more important. Places to cling on to as precious life rafts for bands starting out, buildings that, on nights like tonight, unite rather than divide.