Peace at The Haunt review

Almost a year since they last came to town, Peace were back at The Haunt, the same venue they played as one of the secret gigs at last year’s Great Escape. This time, it was for an unusual three-day residency. Bucking the trend for bands to play fewer gigs and stick to bigger venues, Peace appear to prefer more intimate rooms. They also clearly love touring, even naming their latest trek around the country ‘the J’Adore Tour’.

Now Peace have always been a band that took the road less travelled. Last year, on a tour taking in towns off the rock n roll map, they even played Worthing, but at this stage of their career, three nights at The Haunt did seem a rather curious choice.

Having seen them many times in the past, Peace were also a band I expected would make it big. Their debut album was full of promise and some great songs, In Harrison Koisser they have a front man most bands would die for and they are all talented musicians. Yet, so far at least, that stellar success seems to have eluded them.

Their recently released – and much anticipated – sophomore album contained a handful of gems, but overall rather than securing the Worcester-quintet the step up to the big league, it felt a bit of a let down. And instead of selling out the Dome with aspirations to play the Brighton Centre, they playing a venue that only holds a couple of hundred did appear more of a sideways step, than a career progression.

Before they took the stage, it was the turn of a band setting off on the first steps of their own career. Whilst they are unlikely to be the next Royal Blood, High Tyde do share a couple of thing’s with Brighton’s finest. First, whilst they claim Brighton as their home town they actually come from Worthing and once, not that long ago, Royal Blood actually supported them. The young quartet gave an excellent account of themselves on this, the first of two nights supporting Peace, and showed enough to suggest that they will be one of the best new bands to see at this year’s Great Escape.

Despite this being the first of a three night stay, Peace brought no theatrical accoutrements to their show, there was no backdrop, not even any supplementary lighting. Instead, what we got was a stripped back performance, relying on the songs, their musicianship and of course on their frontman. Right from the opener, ‘Higher Than The Sun’ from the first record, the tightly packed venue was a writhing sea of outstretched arms filled with a succession of crowdsurfers,

As ever at a Peace gig, the band’s musical chops were impressive, none more so than Doug Castle’s glittering guitar skills which while always important to their sound, really comes to the fore during the trippy ten-minute opus, ’1998’ which has now become a highlight of their live show.

Peace at The Haunt 1

The set included pretty much all the best tracks from the band’s two albums, but it was the two lead tracks off the new record that really stood out, and both showcased their new funkier direction. First was the euphoric, dance-infused ‘Lost On Me’ (even if the chorus does sound like they’re singing ‘Colostomy’) and lastly, the encore, the infectious staccato groove of ‘World Pleasure’ whose huge psychedelic breakdown is even better live than on record. Both songs raised the atmosphere to near frenzy level, and both deserved more commercial success than they achieved.

The same of course could be said for Peace themselves. The question now is whether the band can push on to the next level, or are they content to stay as they are? Amping up their stage production would help, as would a hit single. One starts to fear that only when that happens will Peace ever breakout.

Peace’s new album ’Happy People’ is out now

Photo by Images Out Of The Ordinary

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