Exclaiming “Wooooahh we are on tour!!”, Black Honey ‘take a trip down memory lane’ as they make their welcomed return to Cardiff, for what is their first UK headline tour since 2018. Formed in 2014, October 12th (2021) marked the penultimate date for the Brighton quartet, in the ever growing string of tour dates that first began in Halifax on September 3rd (2021). Consisting of Izzy Baxter Phillips (lead singer and guitarist), Chris Ostler (guitarist), Tommy Taylor (bassist), and Alex Woodward (drummer) the indie rock band state “honeys we have hit the road! and boy has it been a ride already”. Celebrating their sophomore album Written and Directed that was released on March 19th this year and reached number 7 on the UK album chart and No. 1 on iTunes. Like ‘sirens screaming down the track’ Black Honey headed for the famous Womanby Street, home of none other Clwb Ifor Bach.
As an advocate for supporting the support acts, an early arrival is always recommended, for which I was pleasingly welcomed by the sight of queues lining the Clwb Ifor Bach walls prior to doors opening at 19.30. Donned in matching white Dickies overalls, 19:45 signaled the time for ‘alt rock gal pal duo’ ARXX. With names embroidered, Hanni and Clara stake their claim on the musical focal point by leaving a lasting memory on the crowd on what was their first appearance in Wales. Thanking the audience for coming down early and feeling the positivity in the room, the fellow Brighton two-piece gave a shout-out to Cardiff, who in their own words were “having the best time on tour and we’re only just getting started”.
Next up is the arrival of Phoebe Green. As the venue begins to build, so does the atmosphere in the room. Proving music is ageless with a flurry of nodding heads from a mixture of different aged faces, the enthusiastic crowd are in good stead as the minutes preceding the appearance of Black Honey begin to near. With a nod to the Manchester based singer, the complimentary use of green lighting, offsetted by the use of the smoke machine encapsulates the room with as much eerie colour as the singer and songwriter herself. Dedicating Easy Peeler to ARXX, for what was their last night of the tour. Seven tracks later Phoebe Green ends with IDK.
Lights, camera, anarchy! Since the long awaited words of “It’s actually happening!!!…we’re going on TOUR!!!!!!!!!!!” were announced earlier in March, the anticipation is finally over! With no need for a DNA test, it turns out Black Honey are 100% that bitch as they walk out to Truth Hurts by Lizzo. Having no trouble in selling out Clwb Ifor Bach (and rightly so), the British four-piece are ‘Showing you how they like to play’ by opening with I Like The Way You Die. With every pound of its snared intro, sounding like the tail of a rattlesnake, Black Honey made their attack. Proving to be ‘the monster in the dark’, Phillips, the self-proclaimed ‘dusty springfield of the desert’ adorned the stage like a woman possessed. Demonic in stature, the crowd was instantly mesmerized as Black Honey began their onslaught of tracks.
With no time for talking and ‘hear[ing] the silence between your eyes’, like saloon doors All My Pride and Beaches swang open the night. With a request for everybody to take a step forward, the want for the audience to be seen was instantly rewarded with Corrine, that not surprisingly received the biggest cheer of the night, following the question of “Cardiff, how in the f$%k are you feeling?”. With a fairly even 7/9 split between the old and new material, minus Dig, which was sadly crossed off the setlist, like shots fired from opposing sides, each album of Written and Directed and their self-titled 2018 debut took their turn to be played, aided with the statement “get to know this shit, as good as the old shit”. With effects pedals and processors for days, this band is anything but wah wah!
“…it’s safe to say Black Honey pressed every drop of their blood, sweat and tears into the night…”
In a category of their very own, not only do ‘bad things come in threes’ but the songs of Back Of The Bar, I Only Hurt the Ones I Love and Madonna. Dedicating I Do It to Myself to every single person in an unsigned band, it’s safe to say Black Honey pressed every drop of their blood, sweat and tears into the night, which was soaked up and reflected by the attentive onlookers of Clwb Ifor Bach. With an interlude to wish guitarist Chris Ostler a Happy Birthday, the stage is once more graced with the appearance of ARXX and Phoebe Green. Not apologising for being Fire by playing the track of the same name, the audience were as animated as its music video and just as engulfed. With a dramatic midsong pause, Black Honey continued to control the crowd.
Delivering on the promise to “give you the best show of our lives”, sixteen heavily tarantino-esque tracks (see Spinning Wheel) and an hour later, it’s curtains close on their cinematic night. For what was my first live interactive with Black Honey, it most definitely won’t be my last. For when Black Honey say “It’s gonna be carnage”, carnage it will be!
Black Honey @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff – Setlist:
I Like The Way You Die
All My Pride
Back Of The Bar
I Only Hurt the Ones I Love
I Do It to Myself
Run For Cover