LIVE: Black Peaks / Press To Meco / Acoda @ Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes

By Dave Bull

Tonight’s line-up brings together Black Peaks and Press to Meco for only the second time, after a reversal of the line-up back in Glasgow in 2015. It is a line-up that immediately excites and the addition of relatively unknown Acoda makes this the perfect night for fans of math-inspired prog rock.

Acoda are a young band but their maturity shines through in spades. Their form of technically gifted math rock is something to behold. Songs like ‘Won’t go Running’ sound incredible. The vocal delivery is crisp and precise and almost dreamlike in its aural intentions. Vocalist Damon TangĀ sports a Circa Survive tee and the similarities are evident. Crescendos of warm guitar float over the lyrics of “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”. Their performance is worthy of a headliner in their own right and even Press To Meco comment that their performance was “hard to follow”.

And so to Press To Meco. There is a feeling of anticipation in the room, despite the relatively small turnout of around 100 people. From the moment the trio bump fists before kicking off their set, there isn’t a second of letup. ‘Family Ties’ winds in through the PA, and from this moment on, they are, in many ways, the best band tonight, and that is saying something as both Acoda and Black Peaks play sets that would receive eight or nine out of ten.

Their live ability is second to none, and songs such as ‘Diffusion Of Responsibility’ sound absolutely massive, as does show stopper and song of the night ‘Honestly’ which perfectly displays the vocal ability of all three, especially drummer Lewis Williams. The harmony work of all three in places is nothing short of sublime, particularly at the end of ‘Autopsy’ which is a real hairs on neckĀ moment.

On to the headliners, Black Peaks, who seem to have done no wrong over the last 18 months, having supported Deftones to huge acclaim and releasing one of the albums of the decade, let alone the year. The trick is of course the second album, which tonight we are privy to perhaps up to half of the tracks, and on the whole excitement is warranted.

The band play a set full of the bangers from ‘Statues’, including ‘Hang ‘Em High’ which always gets things going, the cathartic ending one of the best songs in the business right now. ‘Crooks’ and ‘Saviour’ sound incredible, but to be honest, nothing else is expected from this band. They set the bar so high with not only their debut, but their fiery live sets, that nothing short of perfect will do. ItĀ is hard to live up to all the time – an envious limitation.

‘Glass Built Castles’ shakes the foundations of the building and gives the crowd, albeit small, an opportunity to work off the beers, and the bass in the intro to ‘Drones’ is worth the ticket money alone.

The new material comes thick and fast, cleverly interspersed between the material from ‘Statues’, and on the whole is a resounding success. The only minor point is that Will’s vocals are in places not as crisp or as full of clarity and diction as they usually are, so it is nigh on impossible to hear the lyrics, but stylistically it is in the same ball park as ‘Statues’ which will please most; there is an increased air of professionalism about the tracks.

There are some cleverly crafted choruses and sing-along moments and they do enough to convince those in attendance that there is more to this band than their debut. It will be interesting to hear the finished article and to see how they weave it into their live set once people know the material. The jury remains temporarily out, but is expected to return with aplomb.