Putting on a gig during bonfire night is a risky affair when taking into account attendance, especially when possibly the world’s biggest fireworks night is taking place right next door in Lewes. However for Black Honey, this doesn’t seem to be a problem as the small upstairs gig space in The Hope and Ruin is completely filled to its maximum capacity. But selling out gigs isn’t Black Honey’s only talent; starting the band only last year they’ve quickly gone on to receive Radio 1 air play and were hailed as one of the ‘2014 bands to watch’ after the release of their self-titled EP.
Before the support bands even begin to play it’s clear that the gig is going to be a special one. Colourful balloons are scattered across the stage and have been tied to each of the members mic stands, whilst shiny pink streamers hang from the ceiling and adorn the back wall. Sat nicely in the corner is The Hope and Ruin’s trademark disco ball bathed in golden light, for once actually fitting in nicely with its equally glittery surroundings. The whole evening seems to feel like a cross between some sort of homecoming prom and a surreal birthday party. And that’s without even mentioning the giant pink flamingo that sits atop one of the band member’s amps.
As the members take their places on stage, frontwoman Izzy B Phillips begins her Nancy Sinatra-esque drawl leading into Spinning Wheel, released earlier this year, giving a performance that instantly captivates most of the crowd. And after her banshee like wail that officially kicks the song off anyone that wasn’t paying attention certainly is now, as the band power through a Western-alt-rock mashup that wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. With the crowd’s now undivided attention the band launch into stand-out indie rock anthem Madonna, providing a rush of distorted guitars and fun vocal melodies begging to be sung along to.
The crowd at The Hope and Ruin is varied to say the least, with half consisting of the teenagers come twenty-somethings that the band’s music primarily applies to, and then the other half being of a significantly older variety. It would be fair to assume some may be parents looking after younger attendees, whilst other may be parents looking after band members. There was even a point where one of the mums seemed to begin to plait the pink streamers hanging from the ceiling. However a particularly special guest in attendance was vocalist Phillips’ best friend Corrine who, as it happens, the song Corrine was written for. So naturally when Phillips begins crooning the all too familiar lyrics ‘Corrine come back to me’ she has a specific audience member to address them to. She even goes as far to bring her up on stage and tumble over wiring and pedal boards in a drunken embrace. ‘You’re my one and only’ Phillips confesses as the two are sprawled across the stage in an unholy but loveable mess. The whole affair provides a genuinely heart-warming moment during the evening, and cements the fact that tonight we got to see something genuinely special.
It’s worth saying that Black Honey, like most bands of their ilk, are far heavier live than they are on record, and this is perfectly exemplified by Phillip’s antics on stage. Whether she’s downing a pint and throwing the rest over the stage or ferociously head banging dangerously close to the drums, she makes the show a truly entrancing spectacle to watch. So it seems fitting that on November the 5th the music inside the Hope and Ruin is just as loud, colourful and explosive as the events going on outside. The only difference being that everyone who saw Black Honey was warm and dry, so at the end of the day I think we know who the real winners are.
By Matt Austin