I’m going to start this off with a bit of a confession. Before I went to this show I’d only listened to ‘In Love’ once. I had heard of Peace don’t get me wrong. My friend had already seen them twice this year and was desperate to go again, so I knew they were a group people were excited about. However they had somehow just passed me by. My mistake.
It was one of those gigs that you needed to turn up on time for. Kickstarted by Superfood it was a show of real quality, and it really started to get going when Drenge came on stage. With a lively crowd seemingly desperate to let off some steam, Drenge were just what the doctor ordered. It seems it only takes two brothers to turn the Birmingham O2 Academy into an underground punk club: drinks in the air, bodies flying and a guitarist-come-singer lying on his back on stage with his legs in the air. With the combination of Eoin Loveless’ deep echoing voice, and the band’s thumping punk music, it felt like what The Smiths could have sounded like if Morrissey wasn’t such a sop. The resurgence of true rock, and it was happening right in front of us.
After the lights came back up it seemed Drenge had been a bit too much for two guys, both clearly still coming to terms with their testosterone levels. After about 10 seconds however, they were surrounded by a group of people all with two fingers up shouting ‘PEACE!’ and they soon went their separate ways. After all, the main event were up next.
I’ll admit to being sceptical about whether Peace were up to the task of following Drenge at the time, but I’ll also admit now that I was stupid to worry. From the moment the lights went down the room changed. Any chatter stopped, any fidgeting feet were now pointing directly at the stage, and everyone was waiting with bated breath to see silhouettes take their place on stage. Lights up, ‘Waste of Paint’ was on and the crowd was jumping. Now remember, this was maybe only the third time I was knowingly hearing their music, but when the chorus was playing and the crowd were bellowing every word, I understood Peace. They didn’t let up either, going from ‘Waste of Paint’ to the all too familiar opening riff of their new single, ‘Follow Baby’. Even at this stage fans were crowd surfing.
Peace continued on through their outstanding debut album, going on to play ‘Higher Than the Sun’, ‘Drain’, ‘Float’, and their most recognized single ‘Lovesick’, before going on to play a new song ‘Money’. The song fitted in well with the rest of the set and it didn’t leave the crowd feeling alienated like unfamiliar material can.
Other highlights included the mass sing-along to the desperately catchy ‘Toxic’, their performance of ‘Float Forever’, which had one girl behind me exclaim how emotional it was, and their cheesy but all too appropriate cover of the ‘Wham!’ classic ‘Last Christmas’.
I left the venue very impressed. But for one missed chord, Peace played well and with energy; Harry Koisser’s voice sounds just as good live as it does on record.
When you’ve left a show and the only bands you have listened to since are two of the bands you saw that night, you know you’ve had a good time.
By Jasper Rook Williams