Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Photography by Lee Allen

BLACK PEAKS (15 of 16)

Invaded, screamed at and punched in the chest. This tour tips the Richter scale for seismic waves in Wolverhampton.

Thanks to Wolves playing at home I only caught the last minute of Exiles of Elysium. Having to step over lead singer, Andrew Horton screaming, lying on the floor of the pit was a sign of the night to come.

Bad Sign hit the stage next, a 3 piece from Croydon, their intention is to not play the genre game and deliver straight up, honest music.  Fuelled by a driving baseline that delivers a jackhammer to your chest they rattle through a set evocative of 90s’s post hardcore, sorry just threw a genre reference. Authentic and earnest, they play with their hearts on their sleeves reinforced by lead singer Joe Appleford sending out “Much Love” and dedicating track ‘intermission’ to Black Peaks.

Bad Sign

BAD SIGN (5 of 7)

BAD SIGN (7 of 7)

Heck is a band firmly re-stamping their identity after a cease and desist request on their former name, Baby Godzilla. A foursome known for their lively performances, the expectations are always set high for an engaging show. Within a minute of the opener, guitarist, Jonny, is already in the pit and everything opens up. Self described as ‘general, extreme, noise’, they nail their music and performance perfectly succinctly and without any BS.  Heck invade you; physically in your personal space, and the music drives punches deep into your chest. Lead singer, Matt pushes against the crowd, pinning a topless mosher to a pillar and screaming deep into his soul. They play to deliver a transference of energy: musically, emotionally and physically. They demand of you to push back. These unrelenting noise mongers offer a smidge more melodic respite than last time I saw them on the Kerrang tour. That respite comes in the form of bassist… With his kiss esque moves and melodic choruses he provides light relief in this aggressive storm.

Heck

HECK (5 of 32)

HECK (7 of 32)

HECK (15 of 32)

However I fear it’s not enough. These talented lads are on the verge of having their performance overshadow, rather than enhance, their music. Its a fine balance and one I fear Let Live realised had swung too far the wrong way.  I guess it all depends on their ambition, is it to burn short and bright or to find a point of accessibility that will see them step up a level? I could regale in great detail Johnny traversing the pit on a table pushed by the crowd and a walkabout seeing him grab a shot of Jäegar from the bar mid song, the merch table as a stage, or Matt’s crowdsurfing foot in chandelier incident; however what of the music? Don’t get me wrong these guys are hard working, creative motherfuckers who delivered one of my favourite music videos ever for the track ‘The Great Hardcore Swindle’. They deliver a tight as hell set despite the frenetic, eyes everywhere performance. But they aren’t a band I’m gonna go home and listen to. They deserve to be listened to; at the very least they deserve to be seen.

HECK (28 of 32)

HECK (32 of 32)

HECK (14 of 32)

Black Peaks take the headline spot and are welcomed on stage by a whistling crowd. Opening with ‘White Eyes’ they deliver a pitch perfect set. I have to confess I’ve yet to listen to their debut album, I had intended to listen the shit out of it, as Black Peaks singles have been a slow burn for me. Instead I was waiting to blown away live.

Black Peaks

BLACK PEAKS (6 of 16)

BLACK PEAKS (8 of 16)

The played an 8-song set, the only track not from their current release ‘Statues’ was ‘Closer to the Sun’; an older track from 2014. Singer Joe Gosney, can certainly reach those notes. His vocal control is insane and I feel like I’m listening to Mansun singer, Paul Draper, on steroids.

BLACK PEAKS (14 of 16)

Sadly, live they don’t excite me and I can’t offer you a discernible reason why just a collective sense of jarring observations.  I don’t know if its because the vocals seemed lost in the mix, a few people around me had their hands over their ears in order to discern that haunting voice. I was unconvinced by Joe’s aggressive delivery, it came off more angry dad and his ego centric stances over the crowd were not delivered with the confident, arrogant attitude that Frank Carter or Mallory Knox’s Mikey Chapman can pull off; and I say this loving the one performer and despising the other. I guess I just wanted authenticity and an antidote from the norm, instead the played into expected behaviour, it felt too rehearsed instead of naturally them, but what do I know? Maybe I read it all wrong. Joe should play on that choir boy voice that leaves an echo in the soul, evoking the spirit of Mrs Haversham, and the rest of the band should get lost in the music rather than thinking about what it looks like up there.

BLACK PEAKS (11 of 16)

‘Saviour’ sparked the mass sing-a-long and the crowd surfing. This track transitioned into an instrumental piece that left guitarist, Andrew Gosden, solo on stage. The crowd were enticed to clap as the tempo increased and the remainder of the band returned to the stage to enter the final chapter of the set.

BLACK PEAKS (10 of 16)

Ending the evening’s proceedings with ‘Glass Built Castles’ saw the crowd erupt and continue singing a fade out, long after the song finished. This is a band more than capable of playing large arenas with incredible light shows, heck they supported Deftones at Wembley and fast won over a new bunch of fans. I started the night expectant, waiting on the platform to board the Black Peaks train. I’m still waiting, I’m not giving up yet and the goosebump potential is there, waiting to be ignited. I know others have already experienced this sensation with this band, I fully expect the same, if you haven’t made a point of checking them out yet then do. They won’t be playing this sized venue for long.

BLACK PEAKS (3 of 16)

See the full photoset by Lee here.

Leave a Reply