LIVE: Black Peaks / Palm Reader / Toska @ The Haunt, Brighton

By Dave Bull

Final nights of the tour are always special. They signify the end of a chapter, new friends and new experiences and for Black Peaks tonight it signaled the start of what must feel like an amazing adventure, where pinching themselves has become a daily ritual. Tonight Black Peaks returned to their hometown of Brighton and things will never be the same again.

Black Peaks have been causing quite a storm of late, having been celebrated by such Radio moguls as Zane Lowe, and given the general treatment of a band who are about to go interstellar (relatively speaking for a progressive, post-hardcore band).

Tonight personified why Black Peaks are turning heads, and why they are setting the bar so high. It was a culmination of what was evidently a very successful tour and of a confidence that is building both from within and all around their camp. This band means business, and you better get on board quick.

Toska, a three piece, math-rock, instrumental act are simply incredible – the energy coursing through each track, guitarist Rabea Massaad owning the stage, not just with his huge hair, but also his huge riffs and onstage persona of confidence and immediate likability. They are the perfect warm up and perform at a level which suggests much more is to come.

Palm Reader provide that added grit to proceedings, their set not for the fainthearted – an aggressive and cathartic performance which excels in places, particularly the slower moments which enhance the layers to the band. They are easily capable of more than just aggression. They leave you with a positively raw sensation, a clamoring for more. ‘I watch The Fire Chase My Tongue’ splits your head open, and ‘Sing Out, Survivor’ by far the best of the set; the energy built up in waves, the vocals stripped back, and the gang vocal sections just sublime.

And so the stage was set for the boys with the world at their feet. Following an intro track of sheer grandeur, the performance moves seamlessly into ‘Crooks’. Will Gardner’s vocals are jaw-dropping throughout, the blend of carnally aggressive and wonderfully delicate one of the main reasons this band are where they are. This sentiment continues in ‘White Eyes’, where note perfect harmonies rise out of Gardner. The chorus of “cards come tumbling down” is shouted back by 350 heavily salivating onlookers.

The riffs on ‘Statues’ are delicious. ‘Say You Will’ delivers that funky ambiance before the unique and huge screams lift the roof off The Haunt. Gardener’s outstretched arms resemble some sort of second coming, his goading of the crowd like someone who has been doing this all his life.

‘Hang ‘Em High’ is one of heaviest on the album and fittingly, they are joined by Palm Reader’s Josh Mckeown who contributes his throaty screams to carry out the song on its carpet of guttural carnage. The live version of this song knocks the album version out of the park. ‘Drones’ has a wonderfully lazy intro before the main riff and bass line roar in, before Gardener’s now customary screams of “yeah” go on endlessly, his lung capacity commendable.

And as if the excitement levels weren’t out of this world by now, enter stage left Jamie Lenman from Reuben (remember those guys) who apparently helped Black Peaks get to where they are, his vocals providing another dimension to a live performance that grows through every song. “You’re not who you say that you are” is delivered with an energy that highlights his years in the game. The building energy that the dual vocals offer is nothing short of outstanding, the sheer excitement emanates from the stage.

‘Glass Built Castles’ perfectly portrays the blend that Black Peaks have mastered. It is punchy, energetic and upbeat, and leaves you hoarse and dewy-eyed. ‘Saviour’, an obvious crowd favorite, squeezes the last few drops of energy and sweat from a crowd that has done the band justice all night long. The beauty of ‘Saviour’ sees guitarist Andrew Gosden crowd surf to his own riffs, the resulting carnage essentially providing Black Peaks with the key to the city. Black Peaks are one of the most exciting British bands for a long while, and it wouldn’t do you any good at all to ignore them.