Black Honey Bring A Fistful Of Peaches To Koko

In a bold statement that demonstrates Black Honey aren’t here to take themselves too seriously, following a rousing opening set from Essex-based punk outfit Bad Nerves, none other than Elvis himself appears on the Koko stage. Well ok, someone other than Elvis who happens to resemble The King and is dressed in a Presley-signature jumpsuit takes the stage for a short set of hits from the late Memphis man.

Black Honey @ Koko

Elvis Impersonator
Elvis Impersonator

Black Honey have been together for almost a decade now, with their third LP A Fistful Of Peaches dropping just last month. And yet their rousing rock stylings haven’t yet taken them to the top slots of festivals or headlining gigs at the nation’s larger stages. Yet. And as Izzy, Chris, Tommy and Alex take to the stage at Koko tonight, it’s clear that catching them at venues like this one will be a fond memory for those in attendance.

Black Honey @ Koko

L-R: Alex Woodward, Izzy B. Phillips & Tommy Taylor
L-R: Alex Woodward, Izzy B. Phillips & Tommy Taylor

The storming beat and opening riff of A Fistful Of Peaches’ lead single Charlie Bronson send Koko into an immediate frenzy, the song itself described by frontwoman Phillips stemming from “a personality in my head that feels like Britain’s most notorious prisoner”.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

All My Pride, one of a handful of cuts aired tonight taken from the bonus edition of the group’s eponymous 2018 debut, has the crowd humming along its hooky riff from the outset and sees Phillips strap on a Fender Mustang to flesh out the live guitar sound before more from the new LP via storming, Hole-esque Tombstone.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

Surf rock-tinged sophomore record cut Beaches has Phillips invoke a call and response with her audience and evokes a little Wet Leg. Following the opening bars of early retro-styled tune Spinning Wheel, the frontwoman instructs the standing Koko crowd to form a pit circle. “Wider!” she commands before shimmering Dick Dale-influenced surf-guitar gives way to heavy beats and the crowd bounce wildly off one another.

Black Honey @ Koko

Black Honey @ Koko

Storming, drum-led Heavy offers more from the Brightonions’ latest LP, A Fistful Of Peaches’ latest single already a firm fan favourite, the crowd continuing their wild Phillips-inspired bouncing.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

New LP tune Cut The Cord keeps the tempo up before the group dive into Written & Directed single Back Of The Bar. “I’m dancing on my own tonight” Phillips sings, as Chris Ostler’s shrieking guitars elicit cheers from the London crowd.

Black Honey @ Koko

Chris Ostler
Chris Ostler

“Fuck yeah London” the frontwoman states as they clap along to the rhythmic opening to more from the group’s sophomore record via I Like The Way You Die. But it is new album tune OK that moves the room back into hook-laden, sing-along rock, Ostler’s guitar work once again elevating the tune to that next level.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

“I actually can’t believe that we’ve sold out Koko” Phillips declares. “You’ve sold out Koko” she quickly corrects as cheers erupt across all three levels of the Camden venue. “In 2020 if you’d have told us whilst we were writing these songs that we would be here with you lot right now, I’d have slapped you” she continues, laughs rippling across the crowd.

Black Honey @ Koko

Tommy Taylor
Tommy Taylor

Doing herself a disservice, perhaps the frontwoman declares “I’m so shit at speaking, that’s why I write songs” before introducing new album cut I’m A Man as a song about consent, Phillips’s lucious vocals laid atop crunchy guitars and her bandmates’ chants of “consent”.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

Somebody Better leans back into material from the group’s extended debut, the crowd encouraged to clap along during the tune’s bridge, before heavy-hitting tune Rock Bottom returns us to 2023 like a punch in the face.

Black Honey @ Koko

Alex Woodward
Alex Woodward

Noir-esque Written & Directed single Disinfect could be equally at home in a sweaty hard rock club as the biggest of festival stages and has mops of hair flailing across the crowd as Tommy Taylor’s storming bass riff reverberates around the theatre.

Black Honey @ Koko

Tommy Taylor
Tommy Taylor

“Un, deux, trois, quatre!” Phillips counts in, kicking off Hello Today, the debut record tune that feels as if it was plucked from the very pinnacle of 1990’s Britpop. 

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

“This one is a letter for my younger self” Phillips shares. “If you’re struggling or if know someone that’s struggling, this is for them” she continues, introducing new album song Up Against It, the crowd not needing any excuse to bounce along, the song’s spoken-word bridge eliciting screams from them.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

“Koko we’ve got one more song for you” Phillips teases before main set-closer Midnight is aired, the disco-tinged debut record tune reminiscent of Royal Blood’s latest LP, a group Black Honey would go on to support and, later, write with.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

A brief stage hiatus, and they’re back, Phillips raising a doppelgänger mannequin head in one hand, symbolising new album cut Out Of My Mind, the charging track getting the crowd bouncing along in fine form.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

“Do you want her?” the frontwoman asks her audience, offering them the mannequin head. “You’ve got to promise to give her back, I spent my whole student loan on this thing!” she continues, tossing the head into the crowd as the band tear into closer Run For Cover, the rousing Written & Directed cut allowing Phillips the opportunity to get up close and personal with her fans, and even crowd surf among them.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

“This one is for real the last song” Phillips states, introducing debut record tune Corrine, another opportunity for the frontwoman to hand vocal duties over to her audience.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

Black Honey unashamedly borrow, but are anything but derivative. Massive Tarantino and surf-rock fans, those noir and surf stylings shimmer. But their catalogue of hook-laden pop-rock tunes are as equally reminiscent of 1990’s British and American rock, Phillips’ Courtney Love aesthetic difficult to ignore while undertones of Elastica et al. persist. But tonight is something else, a demonstration that the raw energy of a rock show allows for transcendence.

Black Honey @ Koko

Izzy B. Phillips
Izzy B. Phillips

Black Honey will play Are You Listening? Festival in Reading, Live At Leeds In The Park and In Between Days in Newcastle across May before playing 2000Trees in July and OTHR Festival in August.

Live review and photography of Black Honey @ Koko by Kalpesh Patel on 12th April 2023.

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