Black Honey @ HMV Arndale (credit: Emily Chagas)


Seeing Black Honey perform feels like that first hug you receive from a friend after having your heart ripped out. This is immediately showcased in the first track of their short set, ‘I Only Hurt The Ones I Love’, which reeks of y2k anthems of despair. There is a definite sad-moody aesthetic, all members seem completely torn up whilst playing the tracks but revert to a sweet, candyfloss-like mood after ending the song.

Vocalist Izzy Philips gently brings us into the next track, titled ‘Into The Nightmare’. This particular song feels perfectly fitting to a wild-west romance movie soundtrack, highlighted with sinister guitar from Chris Ostler, which builds in a way that says, “watch out, we’re coming for the rest of the world” (an actual direct quote from Izzy, too). Linking to my previous point of the tracks sounding romantic, ‘Blue Romance’ is not that of a wild-western theme but seems more fitting to films of the coming of age genre. This includes the likes of Submarine, Almost Famous and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Backing vocals from bassist Tommy Taylor harmonise so rivetingly with Izzy’s, setting an atmosphere of soul-stirring passion, laced with reminiscence. A girl in the front row is balling her eyes out. It is that intense.

That said, the stage presence from Black Honey is very shy and withdrawn, and whether or not that is just part of their mysterious image, it is disappointing as it would have been nice to hear more about the recently released self-titled album.

Empathetic anguish radiates from the too-small stage, if you can even call it a stage. I truly wonder, who hurt her? Because that oh so familiar display of pain, you really feel it. It’s a very genuine, heart-wrenching performance; no way could these emotions have been pulled out of nowhere. Izzy Philips’ voice has a character that resembles Duffy, they both have that sort of 60’s charisma to their voices – it feels like you’re watching it in black and white.

The pace is picked up as the four-piece play ‘Midnight’, and on this particular track, drummer Tom Dewhurst shows us that a little tambourine goes a long way. The guitars in this song give ‘Midnight’ a sly sort of vibe, despite vocals remaining sweet as always – those two elements create a balance that is both soft to the ears and intriguing. Black Honey unfortunately finish their set with ‘Hello Today’, which is a much happier contribution to the performance, considering the majority of the tunes played made me fall back down into the pit of remembering every heartbreak and disappointment I’ve experienced in my lifetime so far (in the best way possible, of course). Perhaps it’s too deep to think that the setlist having a positive song on the end resembles the thought that despite having all of our hard moments, there will always be better, happier ones eventually. It’s safe to say that Black Honey put on an emotional, gut-wrenching, heartbreak-reminiscing but eventually joyful performance.

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