Live Review: Black Honey // The Ruby Lounge, Manchester – 28.3.17

Brighton four-piece slash up the indie rulebook, mingling Americana aesthetic and retro shoegaze


Under the proverbial radar for over a year now, Black Honey have been tugged through the sticky sludge of grunge and have somehow came out sounding flawless. It would be a simple slip-up to envision the Brighton bunch with a lot more than a few EPs under their belt. Fronted by this generation’s answer to Debbie Harry, the ‘dream-pop meets vintage shoegaze’ four-piece smashed into the new music scene back in 2014 with their eponymous EP and continued to drip-feed tracks like ‘Madonna’ and ‘Corrine’ throughout 2015.

It’s early days for Black Honey but they are met by a mob ready to serve long-time champions. The band blend shoegaze and garage-rock – genres that flourished before the births of both the band members and the majority of the crowd – but deliver a thriving set to a relatively young audience. Opener ‘Madonna’ has slow-burning jangles of Tarantino while Izzy Phillips harnesses her inner Kill Bill in a yellow get-up. Ever the charismatic frontwoman, Phillips’ sultry vocals roll over the anthemic guitar twangs as the crowd hang on her every word. From the first song in, this spark is never lost.

Decked out as indie kids escaped from a vintage thrift shop, their name is emblazoned in lights on stage – a stark style contrast to their guitars decorated with black duct tape. “Girls Only” scribbled on her guitar, Phillips descends into a trance – a pure lust for her dream-pop mid-gig daydream. Storming through ‘Bloodlust’ and ‘Sleep Forever’, raucous ‘All My Pride’ surges through the crowd from the first note in.

Their set radiates effortless psychedelic shoegaze, then there’s ‘Teenager’ which brims nostalgic ideals and Western-spiked guitar. New single ‘Somebody Better’ reels out confidence with sky-high guitar thrashes while B-side ‘Cadillac’ brings the gig to a reverie jolt and a cooing of vocals. A band built for friends’ shoulders and flares, ‘Hello Today’ is a modicum of original expertise while fan favourite ‘Spinning Wheel’ sees Phillips shape-shift into a tantrum-throwing punk with Pulp Fiction twangs of guitar.

Closing track ‘Corrine’ conjures up enough chaos to send the crowd over shoulders and over the band’s stage speakers onto the stage. The contagious chorus induces a stage invasion and a squeezing of the band by their own fans, instruments colliding into a crescendo. The music grows with the scale of the stage invasion, layers of reverb as dirty as the dingy walls of the venue.

A band of mysteries with a vicious appetite for touring, each show is an enigma. The Honey’s aren’t slowing down, there’s nothing really capable of standing in their way.


Words by Brianna Riley


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