It’s been six long, lonely months since we took in the sweet, slightly sweaty smell of live music - and not even the firmest believers in the incoming powers of Libra season really know what the fuck’s going to happen next - but for one glorious week in September, there was a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel.
Setting up shop at Walthamstow’s Signature Brew taproom, we marked our big 100th issue (presents welcomed - our postal address is on the website…) with a week of sensible, socially-distanced gigs and DJ sets. And you know what? Sitting down watching some of our faves rock out didn’t even feel weird.
Kicking off the week with a special DJ set, cover stars IDLES’ mustachioed guitarist Mark Bowen proved that dropping Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ before autumn’s even really settled in is actually a glorious idea. While closing things off on the Friday, Sports Team’s resident double act Al’n’Oli redeemed themselves from their minimal techno DJ set for our virtual lockdown DIYsolation festival with a bangers-filled party slot. Thank the lord.
In between those most delightful of bookends, meanwhile, came gigs - real ones! - courtesy of three artists who’ve graced their fair share of pages across the last 100 mags.
If there’s a better way to ease back into things than by having South London’s premier doe-eyed crooner Matt Maltese serenade you in the fairy-lit darkness then we’ll be surprised. Don’t believe us? Just ask Jamie T, who grabbed himself a front row seat to soak in the charms of the young romantic - from a tear-jerking cover of Jon Brion’s ‘Little Person’ (released as part of recent EP ‘madhouse’) to a final soaring rendition of old-favourite-turned-unexpected-TikTok-hit ‘As The World Caves In’. Yeah it’s a bit nippy, but that’s not why we’ve got goosebumps.
Cut to Wednesday and if you’ve never seen a pub bench of people try and individually mosh in their chairs, then you’ve never been to a sit-down Black Honey show. Flaunting a host of new material from their upcoming second LP, the band were back in their element, and as sequin-clad singer Izzy B. Phillips led the band through the closing roar of ‘Run For Cover’, you could feel good vibes emanating from all corners of the courtyard.
Good vibes, thankfully, are what DIY veterans Spector are all about - and while you could happily just enjoy Fred Macpherson’s patter as a separate stand-up routine, they’re on hand with the indie hits too. From ‘Chevy Thunder’ to roping in a reluctant Jack Kaye of The Magic Gang to guest on ‘Never Fade Away’ to a lighters-aloft ‘All The Sad Young Men’, we might have had a sad, festival-free summer, but tonight feels about as close to a communal, congregational musical experience as we’re likely to enjoy in a while. You might not be able to throw your arms around a stranger, but there’s something in the air tonight nonetheless.
More like this
They’ll play to 10,000 people at the Downs later this year.
Lifted from their recently released second album ‘Written & Directed’.
‘Plant Test’ is available from UK independent retailers now!
Black Honey have never been ones to think small, and on ‘Written & Directed’ their flights of fancy are out in full force. Izzy B. Phillips unpacks the rich world that makes up the band’s second.