What’s in a name? Not much, it turns out, for Peace; their gigs are anything but. Possessed of an audience every bit as energetic as most of their songs, the band’s Kentish Town Forum show is loud, brash, sweaty, tireless, visceral, and totally invigorating.
With a just-released album, Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll, to promote, they start not with the latest single, a new track, or even a smash hit, but the B-side of their first ever release, 2012’s EP Delicious. And yet the epic 10-minute cover of Binary Finary’s 1998 is just the first inspired choice of the night. Played under muted lighting that casts the four men on stage in silhouette, the largely instrumental slow-burner in the Mogwai mould not only emphasises their musicianship but warms up a crowd that, to be honest, needs little to no encouragement to erupt.
By the time the lights come up and, as they do for the rest of the evening, bathe Peace in a simple but hugely effective array of primary colours, the punters up front are already beginning to look a little worse for wear. But that doesn’t stop them from bouncing even higher as singer-guitarist Harry Koisser kicks off recent single Power with the instantly classic (and instantly echoed) line “I’ve got the power”.
Money, from 2015’s Happy People, somehow elicits an even wilder response, with bassist Sam Koisser’s four-string funkout causing a lapse in the laws of physics: somehow circle pits break out in the bottom stalls, where people are packed like sardines.
The big groove – and joyous, not aggressive, dancing – continues on the reggae-tinted Silverline before the angular I’m A Girl and punchy Toxic incite a near riot up at the barrier while Doug Castle and the frontman lay down guitar solos that could best be described as equally searing.
The Birmingham band keep the momentum going, keeping between song chat to a minimum as they leap from the nimble Wraith to the melodic Lost On Me (cue waving, singing, and punters up on others’ shoulders) to the soaring Shotgun Hallelujah. Not even a quick switch out for one of Dom Royce’s drums can knock the quartet off track with the lead singer channeling Jeff Buckley for a spare rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (cue more singing along).
The soaring Magnificent, with its line “don’t give up on me” is the kind of song that deserves to be heard in stadiums and continues the uplifting mood. Higher Than the Sun, from debut album In Love, and the bouncy Perfect Skin throw a pinch of ‘70s psychedelia into the mix of heaving bodies. The classic rocker You Don’t Walk Away From Love, “about the bright primary stubbornness and unsophisticated optimism that won’t stop squirming toward true love”, might be brand new but everybody seems to know all the words as they jump along in time.
California Daze, big on vocal harmonies and kwela guitar licks, and From Under Liquid Glass, a personal favourite from the new album, momentarily take the crowd off the boil and set the mood for Harry’s solo performances of Float Forever and an unrehearsed World Pleasure that ends with the full band joining in.
And so begins the mad dash to the finish line. Despite more than 90 minutes of perpetual motion, the masses somehow muster the night’s most intense response for Lovesick, enthusiasm that flows over into the new album’s larger-than-life title track. And set closer Bloodshake quite literally does what it says on the tin: shake the blood of the 2300 Londoners who’ve come in search of anything but peace.
Peace live at O2 Forum, Kentish Town. Review by Nils Van Der Linden. Photography by Simon Reed. Simon has his own music photography site at: http://www.musicalpictures.co.uk