It’s a sell-out. This won’t come as any surprise to those who have followed the rapid, upward trajectory of Brighton’s Black Peaks but this is, as they say, a bit of a “moment” for a band that many have got justifiably excited about. This current tour, a showcase for their second album, the widely admired All That Divides (Rise Records), will see the band traverse the UK, but this stop off in the capital, on the same day that Marmozets are playing up the road and Crossfaith playing down the road still has touts asking (and getting) silly amounts of money outside the tube station is proof positive that this band have engineered more than a little bit of excitement about them.
We will get to them in a bit.
First up tonight are Watford’s Gold Key. Somewhat embarrassingly, their debut album Hello Phantom (Venn Records) seemed to pass me by when it emerged in the latter part of 2017. More fool me because, it, and they, make an absolutely terrific racket. Their smorgasbord of influences from Pink Floyd through Muse and onto Queens of the Stone Age with a hard-edged aggressiveness that their punk heritage doubtless gave them (they boast erstwhile members of Sikth and Gallows), this short thirty-minute set is packed full of angular riffs and melancholic choruses that combine in a riot of colour and energy. There is something of the gang mentality to the band’s live experience – a veritable us against the world but it’s a fight for hope rather than one borne of nihilism that is paramount. Superb.
Next up is Bossk. I love Bossk. I have been trying (and, likely, failing) to work out who they remind me of; in the Doom-laden gloom of their claustrophobic and immersive post-Metal there’s some Black Sabbath, some Depeche Mode gothic hues and, even dare I say, something of Seamonsters (RCA) era Wedding Present in their sonic catalogue. Tonight, I think they sizzle rather than soar and it’s clear that they belong on a bigger stage where their dynamic range can be given full flight. It’s solid enough but not as stellar as I had hoped.
There is more than a frisson of excitement for Black Peaks. The usual ironic cheers for equipment arriving on stage that one often gets at a gig actually sound genuine and palatable tonight. The Underworld is rammed and sweaty and excited to welcome the band to this tiniest of stages.
When lead vocalist Will Gardner launches into opener ‘Can’t Sleep’ it’s as if his life depends on it; his commitment to the cause is shared with an audience that yells the lyrics back to him like a twenty-year-old classic, not just a song that saw the light of day a few months earlier. ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Electric Fires’ sound vital and energised, but it is the trio of ‘Aether’, ‘Say You Will’ and ‘Glass Built Castles’ where you think the band are going to take the roof off, such is the energy, power and sheer gusto on display.
Any tiny, lingering doubts about whether or not this band are the real deal or not are steamrollered in a nine-minute blast of sensational noise and excitement. This is the sort of show that, in five years’ time, about 100,000 people will tell you they were at because this is the special shows that we all want to have a part of.
Bigger and better things are assured. Brilliant.