Slaves seized Birmingham's O2 Academy with a heady concoction of heavy riffs and pummelling percussion, Music Writer Christian Nasillo reviewsWritten by Christian Nasillo on 23rd January 2019
Live Review: Black Honey
After getting to meet Black Honey lead singer Izzy B. Phillips, Redbrick's Laura Mosley follows up by heading heading down to their O2 Academy gig
Black Honey, with their cult-film inspired brand, would perhaps be more suited to a dingy Tarantino- themed Texan bar than a polished O2 academy venue. Yet this is where the gig took place, and it didn’t take much effort for the venue to mutate into something much bigger and grander than it is. Complete with LED lights, the stage screamed psych-rock.
“Black Honey are a band to be taken seriously – they’re not a new band, but one that has taken years to master their craft and stage presence
Black Honey are a band to be taken seriously – they’re not a new band, but one that has taken years to master their craft and stage presence. They are continuously seeing the world through new eyes and on this evening, they invited their audience to see their vision too.
Support acts Russo and PINS both complemented the femme-fronted theme of the night. The former, hailing all the way from the USA, soared through their set with feisty, punk-driven energy, proving to the audience that they’re ones to watch. The latter, PINS, were the more established, and many in attendance already knew the words to their songs. Clad in black leather, the vocalist commanded the crowd in a manner which can be rare of support acts. However, being in a live setting, I found it hard to appreciate the nuances within PINS’ setlist and found them almost monotonous in tone, eager for Black Honey to arrive and gain control of the stage.
“Russo soared through their support set with feisty, punk-driven energy, proving to the audience that they’re ones to watch
It is clear when seeing Black Honey live that there is a narrative they wish to tell. Entering the stage in a Ronald McDonald-inspired clown outfit, lead vocalist and guitarist Izzy B. Phillips fixed eyes with the audience, clasping a pseudo Happy Meal in her hands. Perhaps drawing inspiration from John Wayne Gacy’s ritualistic clown costume, image is clearly an important way for the band to convey their message and in commanding everyone’s attention. Izzy deposited the Happy Meal with a crowd member, proceeding to hug them before returning to the stage to begin the set.
The band opened with new Pulp Fiction-inspired tune ‘I Only Hurt the Ones I Love’, filled to the brim with an angsty kick which drew the crowd in and got them jumping off their feet. This was followed by fan favourite ‘Madonna’, and ‘Bad Friends’ from their recent debut album (if any song is going to make you feel like an extra in a moody art-film, then it’s this one). ‘You blow our minds’, Izzy grinned before surging through the rest of the set.
“Entering the stage in a Ronald McDonald-inspired clown outfit, lead vocalist and guitarist Izzy B. Phillips fixed eyes with the audience, clasping a pseudo Happy Meal in her hands
‘Spinning Wheel’ particularly stood out to me, as the vibrant and varied lyrical ability of the band became apparent – easing their way through angsty rock songs that contrast with the deeper crooning of tracks like ‘Baby’. This band is multifaceted, and they want to ensure the crowd see their many layers. ‘Hello Today’ was like a punch of optimism and its rippling energy was met with the loudest singalong of the night.
Interestingly, the band chose to close their set with ‘Midnight’, one of their recent singles which has already accumulated over 200,000 views on YouTube. Their set was fun and bold and Izzy’s final shrill was met with a collective roar, flooding the tiny venue. This four-piece, whilst having already amassed a body of experience under their belt, are still at the start of their journey and with a story-based narrative that surrounds each song, their evolution is one that is certainly worth following.