Still standing in for Exeter music fans’ favourite gig venue Cavern, Phoenix hosted Brighton-based Black Honey last Saturday night. Being a huge live music fan and experiencing fewer gigs in Exeter than I’d ideally like, the thought of seeing the up-and-comers live was too tempting to resist. After impressive warm-up act FREAK delivered a loud, catchy supporting set – throwing the crowd (especially those at the very front) into a frenzy of dancing and cheering – the audience were more than ready for the main event.
Ascending the stage with an air of casual confidence, the excitement of Black Honey’s impending performance could be felt in the crowd. Their whole set was bolstered by the band’s clear comfort at being on stage, which made them enjoyable to watch even though many of the audience didn’t know every word to every song. Although clearly appealing to a younger audience, who tended to stick close to the barrier whilst throwing all their energy into singing and dancing along, there was a noticeable range of ages in attendance, showing the band’s wide appeal. The younger crowd really made the audience, though, bringing extra excitement and providing the band with the energy they needed to perform at their best.
Frontwoman Izzy B. Phillips showcased her amazing vocals throughout; when someone sounds the same live as they do on their recorded tracks, you know it’s true talent. The entire band brought with them an aura of fun, which only served to impress and involve the audience more. Catchy choruses filled the set, making it exciting throughout, and encouraging the audience to sing along and have a good time.
Kicking off the gig with ‘Madonna,’ the band played through their eclectic musical catalogue of upbeat and more slow-burning songs, including popular tracks ‘All My Pride’ and ‘Spinning Wheel.’ New single ‘Somebody Better’ and previous release ‘Hello Today’ brought an enthusiastic crowd response, with the latter being a personal favourite. At these points, the band’s appeal was all too evident.
The energetic set was broken up by a slowed-down, beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Cadillac,’ before plunging back into the gig’s generally spirited setlist. Ending with upbeat fan-favourite ‘Corinne,’ Black Honey’s set seemed to end all too soon. The band’s enthusiastic announcement that they’d be around to meet fans afterwards only confirmed the dedication and gratitude they felt towards their supporters that had been evident on-stage throughout the night.
Having played in Exeter before and seeing an increasing audience since their last stop, Black Honey’s appeal is clearly spreading, which comes as no surprise with their offering of hits that beg for you to sing along. Their inevitable rise to the top won’t be something you want to miss!