Gig review: Black Honey at Manchester Academy 2

A set full of indie rock magic from the masters of cinematic grunge

From the reverberating opening chords of ‘I Like The Way You Die’, Black Honey had Friday night’s Manchester Academy 2 audience under their spell. 

The band’s wild and uncompromising second album, ‘Written & Directed’, sounds great however you listen to it — but it’s at its best washing over a crowd of screaming fans in the sweaty, sticky-floored setting of a jam-packed music venue. 

Special mention needs to be made of support act Phoebe Green and her band.

Their soaring and glamorous pop secured Green as one of those support acts that everyone immediately Googles to see if they have a headline gig in the pipeline any time soon.

For many people, this gig marked a return to live music after more than 18 months, and they were determined to savour every second.  

Standing on the edge of the stage, frontwoman Izzy B. Phillips asked the audience: “Didn’t some part of you just think this would never happen?

“And now we’re here, f**** me.”

Her words were met with cheers as hundreds of lukewarm pints were raised triumphantly in the air. 

The crowd matched the band’s immeasurable energy throughout — youthful, rebellious and fiery. 

The small mosh pits that had been popping up sporadically from the first song united into one jumping mass for ‘Spinning Wheel’, which was delivered in Phillips’ unflinchingly raw vocals. 

2015 standalone single ‘Corrine’ is both enduringly powerful and popular, remaining a firm fan favourite more than five years on. 

Phillips has previously said that ‘Corrine’ was written after a drunken fight with her best friend.

As the opening lines echoed round the room, two girls in front of me grasped each other’s hands as they sang along: a reminder that although Black Honey know how to pack a powerful punch, they deliver on the more vulnerable, poignant moments, too. 

At one point, as the guitars and drums continued in the background, Phillips addressed the audience and said: “Any identifying women here? 

“Okay gents, it’s time to step aside — women to the front. 

“We’re creating a safe space for women tonight and always, come on down to the front.”

The crowd exploded into applause and it wasn’t long before groups of young women were clustered at the front, arms around each other, singing along to the defiant opening verse of ‘Fire’ — “I’m not yours, don’t belong to you / It’s my body, I make the rules / I can do what I want to”. 

The atmosphere was electric, and when drummer Alex Woodward stood up behind his drum kit to egg on the crowd, it didn’t take much encouragement to get every pair of hands in the air. 

‘Run for Cover’ (which saw Phillips expertly crowd surf) was a triumphant finale to a set list overflowing with cinematic grunge magic.

The dancing and chanting continued as the lights went up and the crowd left the venue in a familiar wave of breathless post-gig euphoria.

WRITTEN & DIRECTED: Black Honey’s latest album shows this is a band taking things up a gear. Image: Chuffmedia press image.

Featured image: Chuffmedia press image

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