Black Peaks In Manchester
One of Britain’s most vital new bands perform their debut record in full
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
Playing their album in its entirety tonight, before a varied and vibrant crowd, Black Peaks sound vital. With an intense energy surging through their bloodstream, it doesn’t take long for the band to wallop out their excellent brand of proggy post-hardcore. Indeed it doesn’t take long either for guitarist Joe Gosney, who never stood still throughout, to throw himself into the crowd, eschewing a tidal wave of fanged, Mastadonian riffs as he did. Vocalist Will Gardner too was right up in the audience’s faces, bellowing with a vein bursting ferocity. If the power and the majesty of opening two was enough to take your breath away, then this was going to be an asthmatic’s nightmare. Glass Built Castles, built on a pulsating snare beat that grinds an attacking riff and the swinging thump of Crooks – both songs armed with infectious and expertly produced choruses that crawl into your head and claim squatter’s rights – represent a band rising with warp speed.
In contrast, main support act and fellow Brighton residents Tigercub seemed relatively placid. Between moments of spangly and accessible but fuzzed up and bass heavy alt rock akin to Aeges, there were splashes of colour and memorability. This came in the form of quiet and soft dynamic shifting reminiscent of early Pink Floyd and a Nirvana like voraciousness on closing number Migraine. Unfortunately though, as soon as tonight’s headliners took to the stage, they were duly swept aside.
In Will Gardner, Black Peaks have something of an unlikely hero. His image does nothing to conform to your stereotypical rockstar, to the idealistic idea of a music megastar in this image obsessed society. Truth is, he wipes the floor with those conformist figures. His domineering figure beholds a gravitas and charisma – a charm and a fury in equal measure – that ices the band’s live performances like few others can. On Say You Will he deviates from heartfelt purring to rapid, foam-mouthed roars and back in an instant. On Hang ‘em High – by far one of their best and most ambitious songs, stacked with a staggering venom – he borders on immovable object, while Gosney bleeds ingenious riffs and musicality like it is second nature.
Elsewhere, Drones gives a chance for the rhythm section to shine. Bursting in and out of Gosney’s sprinkled clean guitar chords, bassist Andrew Gosden and drummer Liam Kearley add a jittering panache to the song, then drag you face first into its melancholic but captivating climax.
The impressive thing with this set, which emphasises the brilliantly high consistency of the album, is that it is in no way top heavy. In To Take The First Turn they provide a triumphant finale which only excites the room more with the prospect of a follow up album arriving before the end of the year. And to think, this is just the first step in the band’s career…