By Jack Rea
On the first night of October, with the drunken haze of fresher’s week finally wearing off and for those younger a new school year already the norm, a predominantly student crowd waits with anticipation for Peace’s sold-out gig at the Manchester Academy. Peace, often dismissed by the nay-sayers as having little depth and imitating successful brit-pop bands of the nineties, clearly have something to say to today’s generation, reflected in the youth and excitement of the crowd.
Support for the gig comes in the form of two London based bands, rock group Yak and indie outfit Splashh. There’s a real energy to the crowd as several members near the front give it their all to the first support. Yak kicks off with heavy riffs and moody crooning, and don’t let out for the entire set. At their best moments the songs don’t feel out of place on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Splashh continue proceedings with breezy, electronic indie pop, at times in a similar vein to Peace’s Birmingham cousins Swim Deep. Both bands feel, young, new and upcoming; something Peace gigs always seem to encapsulate regardless of the fact the group are now five or so years and two albums into their musical career.
After a suspenseful wait, Harry and co finally swagger onstage to the sound of excited cheering. They kick the set off with the opening track of their new album “O You”, in which Harry sings to the crowd “The 90’s were cool, I’ve heard all about. The 80’s were better, I have no doubt.” From the immediate electrifying reaction of the fans it’s clear that while there may be a sense of nostalgia for a period most of them weren’t alive for, this is about the here and now. This exact moment in this exact room. The set continues with a series of hits from both albums and a selection of rarer material from the early EP, with nearly every track from new album “Happy People” getting a look-in. Perhaps the most effective moments are when the set shifts into acoustic mode and the crowd takes a breath from the hot sweaty mess to sing along to anthems such as “Float Forever” and “California Daze.” An intensely atmospheric rendition of “1998” leaves the crowd in a state of awe before plunging them into a state of wild frenzy, wrong-footing them for a split second with a cleverly placed Smoke on the Water riff mid song.
There’s a sense of sadness towards the end of the set that this could be the last we see of Peace for a while. Nobody in the room wants it to be over. With the announcement of this tour they’ve admitted it’s the last we’ll see of them until album three. Peace have certainly matured between albums and a lot of their young fans have matured with them. Peace’s first album certainly signifies an important period of my life in growing up and will always have meaning to me, so it’s in early tracks like “Follow Baby” and “Lovesick” that I connect most with. That being said when they arrive at the final track “World Pleasure”, which to my knowledge contains one of the catchiest bass-lines you’re likely to hear in modern music, Peace’s endurability is evident. Where there are people young at heart and looking to have a good time there will be Peace.
Jack is a third year English student and self-proclaimed Whovian who also enjoys film and live music. You can read his blog here – Jack Rea Blog.