Review: Peace + Drenge + Superfood @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – 13/12/2013

There’s a kind of two-sided appeal to Peace. First and foremost, the foursome are genuinely good musicians whose ability to craft songs, teasing the best out of their instruments and effects is impressive, and their ability to do so live to an even greater extent, evident. Secondly, they can write a pretty killer pop song – friendly enough for Radio 1 and with an accompanying swagger to ensure that their merch stall is occupied pretty much throughout by gaggles of teenage girls. A clever fusion. With that in mind, it’s pretty pleasing that the few thousand who cram into the O2 Academy tonight for the climax of Peace’s final UK tour of 2013 and their biggest headline show to date are a mix of the two audiences. All are ready to party – it’s nearing Christmas after all.

As part of a beautifully crafted bill, Peace have brought their friends Drenge and Superfood along with them – the former having been on the road (and admitting to being very sad to come off it) with the band from the start, with the latter joining specially for the London and Birmingham dates. Last Christmas (more on that later), Superfood played the 300 capacity Rainbow pub with Peace for their annual festive extravaganza under their former guise, JUNNK. Tonight, with 10 times the number of people in the room and a hell of a lot more room to manoeuvre, they prove that they can hold their own just as well as the headliners on a stage this size. Wonderful newer songs make way for their latest release Bubbles / Melting which makes way for old favourite, the eponymous Superfood, and the outfit cruise throughout; 90s nostalgia never sounded so relevant. Minor strings mistakes are almost inaudible against a tight rhythm section meaning the band leave the stage to a jubilatory response.

And Drenge follow suit; harder, more thrashy, less talkative, the brother duo power through their half hour evoking the front half of the room to really move, which is always a pleasure to see locally. The Derbyshire boys deliver a set of raw urgency, a release of pent up frustration and walls of noise. Though not necessarily for everybody, it is starkly recognisable that boy, Drenge don’t half wail.

Which leaves it all to play for for Peace who step onstage to a complete roar and Waste of Paint. A lengthened set including Drain, the wonderfully indulgent 1998 and an absolute belter of a new track, Money, make way for their Christmas cover, Last Christmas which lead singer Harry Koisser’s voice lends itself to perfectly, and when the confetti cannons fire, it doesn’t for a moment feel like too much, it feels like a party to celebrate the success of a truly whirlwind year. Peace are a band even better live than recorded and live is how music is meant to be enjoyed. Tonight they justify every ounce of hype they’ve received.

 

Photos by Andy Hughes

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