Monday, October 11, 2021

Written & Staged by Black Honey: Live at Manchester Academy 2

Very few artists are the true puppet masters of their audience. However, Black Honey are one. Their set at Manchester Academy proved that they control the strings of all who come to watch them.

The Brighton four-piece took to the stage in support of their acclaimed second album ‘Written & Directed’ and it was something to behold. The confrontational ‘I Like The Way You Die’ opened the set and it proved that despite the pandemic, they had not lost any of their energy – the crowd were immediately in awe.

The support acts were Arxx & Phoebe Green.

Arxx – made up of Hanni & Clara – donned the stage in matching boiler suits, with an aesthetic that harked back to glam icons Sparks. With a sound more indebted to garage-rock & gospel than glam, they electrified the crowd from the off.


Phoebe Green’s support slot was a triumphant homecoming that bought much joy to the people of Manchester. Her performance included latest release ‘So Grown Up’ which is a beautiful slice of melancholic indie pop, but one could hardly fail to notice the performers inner child gleaming as she performed in front of her people.


Cometh the hour, it was the turn of Black Honey, who are fronted by the most charismatic blonde leader in the UK right now, Izzy B. Phillips, who commanded the stage from start to finish. She can snarl like the best of them, demonstrated on tracks like ‘Madonna’ or ‘Spinning Wheel’, but she can cut a lonely figure to tug at the heartstrings when required too. Her erratic, solo dancing during ‘Back Of The Bar’ was both beautiful and lonesome. 


The band – made up of Chris Ostler on guitar, Tommy Taylor on bass and Alex Woodward on drums – were a well oiled machine, and the performances of recent releases such as ‘I Do It To Myself’ and ‘Summer Of ‘92’ didn’t lose any of the bombast they have on the recorded versions. 


The show’s finest moment was without doubt when Izzy asked that all identifying females were allowed to the front, asking that the gentlemen in the crowd “do the right thing”. With this order established, the band made everyone’s hair stand on end as they launched into the fittingly affirming ‘Fire’. Lyrics like “It’s my body, I make the rules” resonated like a holy scripture. 


By this point, we were worshipping at the feet of these indie icons who really bring people together. The audience’s make up was eclectic and yet there is something binding about being at a Black Honey gig – an invisible uniform is present, they really occupy a unique subgroup of their own. And it’s one that is an honour to be part of. The biblical screams from the crowd during the elongated pause between intro & carnage of ‘Spinning Wheel’ truly was spectacular. 


They finished on ‘Run For Cover’ from their latest release and by this point the crowd were in a frenzy. Izzy jumped into the crowd where she was held aloft by the adoring masses. 


Black Honey continue their UK tour with support from Phoebe Green & Arxx.



I Like The Way You Die

All My Pride



Back Of The Bar

I Only Hurt The Ones I Love


I Do It To Myself

Somebody Better

Summer of ‘92




Spinning Wheel

Hello Today


Run For Cover


Tom Pritchard


Image: Lana Williams

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