There are three bands on the bill for tonight’s concert: RUSSO, PINS and Black Honey. Coming straight from work, I arrive at the venue and meet up with my concert-going friend just before the second band is about to go on.
A later online check shows that PINS, from Manchester, have been around for several years, but they’re new to me. Their first song is a catchy-as-hell, sexy-as-fuck, funky-ass TUNE, and the calm but feisty attitude of the band gives a sense of cool that is very appealing.
There’s nothing sonically revolutionary going on here. It’s easy to imagine the band being transported forty years back in time and taking to the tiny stage of the sweaty, smoky, stinking CBGB in downtown Manhattan. Back when New York was edgy and dangerous (something difficult to imagine today, when Manhattan is pretty much a theme park for rich posers and shoppers). But this is Electric Ballroom in London in 2018. There’s nothing much edgy about London these days either, but PINS certainly manage to give the illusion for the about 45 minutes they’re on stage that there’s still an edge to be found if one looks – and listens – hard enough.
Though the songs are a bit samey and blur into one another after the first three-four numbers, PINS sounds excellent and are entertaining to watch. As they leave the stage, I catch myself thinking that the central band of the evening, Black Honey, have something to live up to if they want to outshine their (second) support act.
For some reason, I thought Black Honey was American. Still, when peroxide singer-guitarist-frontwoman, Izzy B, exclaims, ‘Fucking hell, Electric Ballroom, London – you blow our fucking minds’, it’s evident that she’s English (from Brighton, actually). Another thing that quickly becomes clear is that most of the audience know the band a lot better than I do, as people sing along to pretty much every song throughout the set.
Songs like I Only Hurt the Ones I Love, with its twangy guitar transporting us straight into the American South-west, and Somebody Better, with its steady driving rhythm, both get the audience going. As with PINS, Black Honey’s songs all sound like something I’ve heard before, hammering home the fact that in Rock ’n’ Roll, all has already been said and done and played and sung. But they do it well, look the part, and the audience is into it. What more can you ask for from a band?
The closing song, Midnight, is raw and punk with Izzy B screaming the lyrics at the audience (in contrast to the recorded version of the song, which is sleek and sexy and poppier). The members of RUSSO and PINS charge onto the stage and dance and pogo and jump around, making sure the concert ends on a celebratory high, underlining the point that this is a party to which everyone is invited. Judging by the many who keep dancing around without a care in the world, after the bands have left the stage, to Whigfield’s Saturday Night playing on the sound system, there’s no doubt that everyone here tonight enjoyed the party.
Black Honey setlist
1. I Only Hurt the Ones I Love
3. All My Pride
4. Bad Friends
6. Somebody Better
7. Crowded City
8. Blue Romance
9. Just Calling
10. Into the Nightmare
11. Spinning Wheel
12. What Happened to You
14. Hello Today