Peace at Birthdays live review

'Peace will be both inescapable and irresistible this summer'

Chris Eustace on 02 May 2020

It’s almost a year to the day since our first encounter with Peace. First on and stuffed into the corner of the Abbey Tavern at 2012’s Camden Crawl, there was obvious potential there that day, and a room full of curious punters, but plenty of bands never quite make it past that point.

So it’s fair to say things have worked out pretty well for the quartet: following a successful NME tour, debut album ‘In Love’ is impressing ears the country over. A rabid fanbase are ensuring gigs are solidly sold out, including this one, the first of a four-night stand down at Dalston hangout Birthdays.

That’s all impressive stuff, but there’s more: as the heads of Birmingham’s B-Town scene, all hard at work kicking baggy and grunge into the 21st century, they’re now in a great position to help their friends out.

Swim Deep and Jaws are both already well on their way, so step forward Superfood. The four-piece have a nice line in anthemic choruses, piling up as they do over loping rhythms and Dom Ganderton’s curled lip sneer (think pre-self-parody Liam). As with many of their Second City peers, they wouldn’t sound out of place if they’d emerged in the early 90’s, though there’s also a bit more of a Britpop influence in these strong songs.

When they’re upbeat, it’s like ‘Screamadelica’-era Primal Scream crashing into The Cribs, while a couple of slower numbers have a hazy, hooky charm all of their own. They finish with playful theme tune ‘Superfood’ – the only song they’ve released anywhere to date – and it’s an instant earworm. Even those present who haven’t caught on the radio are singing “you’re always hungry!” back at the band by the end. Looks like they’re as good for you as people say.

The headliners are possibly not as concerned for our health, as Peace’s arrival onstage is heralded by a single strobe, blinking so intensely that, noting their seizure-tastic lighting,  when frontman Harry Koisser takes to the mic to ask if we’re ok, he’s only half joking. The singer’s sparkly top is just as likely to blind us all though, so things are balanced out nicely as a sprightly ‘Delicious’ kicks things off.

Such is the band’s confidence right now, they’re not afraid to throw in ‘Follow Baby’ next, for the first big singalong of the night, and raising the nonchalance bar even higher, the none-more-catchy ‘Lovesick’ follows, a runaway train of a song matched only by the delirious dancing Dalstonites in attendance tonight.

We’ve barely time to take in Harry’s one-word song intros (“Feelings.” “Elation.”) as twinkly psych-ballad ‘Float Forever’ gives way to a huge ‘Higher Than The Sun’, which builds to the point that it resembles four MGMTs playing stadiums at once.

‘Toxic’ illustrates just how many different ways this band could turn, twisting around Supergrass, Pavement and even Motown girl groups as Koisser desperately repeats “All I gotta do is forget you.” We hit the home straight with a slinky ‘Wraith’, where everyone takes particular delight in singing the line “blow me like a floating feather”, while a ferocious version of Binary Finary cover and EP favourite ‘1998’ (“this song’s really long”) kind of closes the main set.

Kind of, as the band treat the whole encore business with the snarkiness any band on their debut album should – “We can just pretend we went back to that shitty room!” laughs Koisser as they stay put, the obliging crowd cheering as if the band have just returned to the stage. This also means we don’t have to wait as long for ‘California Daze’, a song so odds-on to inspire phones/lighters/arms aloft moments this summer you’re half wondering if Ray Winstone’s giant head is about to turn up to announce it.

‘Bloodshake’ and its tropical stomp ends things on a high, amid a mini ticker tape explosion, to round off the kind of show that can only make you look forward to festival season. With the B-Town kingpins a big part of an indie “scene” that’s finally reinvigorated, relevant and fun again, ready to join all the homegrown dance, rock and hip-hop acts at the top of their game, they should be both inescapable and irresistible this summer.


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