Having seen Peace once before as the opening slot at the NME awards tour, where they’d done a good job giving the half empty venue a six song taste of their then unreleased album, I was looking forward to seeing them as a headliner. Touring to promote their first album, ‘In Love’, I wanted to see how a full set of the heavy indie-pop songs would sound and how the band would do with a smaller crowd, up close, there only to see them. They didn’t let me down. ‘Delirious’ kicked things off. Harrison Koisser, dressed in a long fake fur coat with huge collar, was immediately into the role of guitar playing front man; vocals delivered with passion, using all of the tight stage during his guitar parts. The crowd were into it too; kids at the front screamed and grabbed each other, jumping around, free in the moment. This carried on through ‘Follow Baby’, ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Waste of Paint’. Things slowed down for ‘Float Forever’. Girls’ voices in the crowd could be heard singing from the opening line “Sit atop the Eiffel in your mind” all the way to the song’s end. Before ‘Higher than the Sun’ Harrison paused and asked “Has anyone heard our album yet?” Had he not been listening? Every one of the previous five songs had crowd participation. For this tune you could feel the expectation of the chorus and as orange light burst from the stage, the crowd joined in again.
I’d heard the album a couple of times before the gig but there was a familiarity to the songs. I was surprised by how many intros I recognised and how many lyrics I sang along with. There was something about the songs that pulled me in. Unlike the album, some of the verses were a bit lost in performance (‘Toxic’ for example) but the confidence in the band’s delivery meant it wasn’t really an issue. Each song is filled with catchy riffs or swirling guitar. I’ve used the word pop to describe them. Let me be clear, this is pop in the same way the Stone Roses are pop. There were glimpses of the Roses here, notably in Samuel Koisser’s bass playing. But don’t get me wrong, despite the harmonies and sweetness of songs like ‘Lovesick’, Peace can be as heavy and loud as you’d expect from lads with guitars and hair down to their shoulders.
The pounding drums were best seen on ‘Scumbag’, a song sung by Harrison with a sweaty fringe clamped to his face, evidence of efforts of his performance. The highlight of the night though was ‘Wraith’. The song brought a moment I’ve never seen before at a live gig. As the song finished someone in the crowd shouted for them to play it again. Harrison looked a bit confused and clarified what had been said. More of the crowd joined in. Play it again. Play it again. The band looked at each other. “I don’t think we’ve got time.” Play it again. The band played a teasing intro of the song, the hypnotic riff starting for the second time. They stopped but the crowd’s reaction confirmed it was a bad idea. So they played it again. The crowd putting more into it second time round, as if thanking the band for the moment of pure Rock n Roll. Forget the venue’s time limit. Forget the set list. The band and crowd all in it together, and for that second play of the song, that was all that mattered.
The crowd deserve their mention here too. For most of the night they were a continuous wave of bouncing kids; singing, clapping, drinks in the air. I saw a couple of them being dragged out by the ankles as their attempts at crowd surfing went wrong. It was good to see a new guitar band at this point in their career. Fresh, exciting tunes, that clearly mean something to their fans. If Preston is an indication of the army of followers Peace are picking up on this tour, they are a band who are going to have a bright future.
The only disappointment for me came during the final song, ‘1998 (Delicious)’, a mostly instrumental cover that was overly long. Somewhere during the middle the crowd stopped its mass movement, and just stood and watched. The band left the stage to a great reception though. They returned for a two song encore of ‘California Daze’ and ‘Bloodsnake’. Before the first song, Harrison asked “Preston is anyone in love?” The answer is yes………this crowd, with his band.
Waste of Paint
Higher than the Sun
Wraith (Played twice at the request of the crowd)