Review of Peace / Drenge Gig at Bristol Anson Rooms
Bristol, on a Thursday before Christmas, is party central. If I wanted to play skittles with pedestrians it would be a simple task. I’m running 15 minutes late and Clifton is sardine-jammed with vehicles. I’ve already had one parking ticket today (thanks TEWKESBURY!) and this combined with the fact that I have left my wallet at home mean that the fiver I do have in my pocket *must be saved for beer.*. Eventually I locate a free parking space – somewhere South of the Zambezi – and trudge back to Bristol’s Anson Rooms to see Peace, supported by Marc Riley favourites Drenge.
If you’ve never been to the Anson Rooms, imagine a great big shoebox. No, a really big one that you could probably put 1000 people in. It’s oblong, it’s large and tonight it’s about 80% full. An unexpected benefit of that fact is that you can get a really good view of the stage by standing near the back. Your correspondent nestles happily at the rear clutching £3.50’s worth of Carlsberg and enjoys the show.
Drenge are noisy. Northern brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless put out a phenomenal racket for a drumkit and a guitar. It’s enervating, and the student crowd are well up for it. (Drummer Rory actually steams as he plays.) ‘Bloodsports‘, a lengthy ‘Fuckabout’, and a climactic ‘Let’s Pretend’ are highlights of an eardrum-pounding set. (Incidentally, I’ve been to a few gigs lately and this was by far the loudest. The Anson rooms appear to be rather less concerned with noise limiters than other local venues and it was great. I love a bass you can feel in your chest and a lead guitar you can still hear the next morning.) ‘Face Like a Skull’ climaxes with guitar waved like a flag and the band exit to echoes and feedback. The crowd go nuts and rowdy and there’s a whiff of danger in the air.
In February, Drenge are on tour again and I recommend you catch them. I’ll be watching them at Bristol’s legendary ‘Fleece’ and the fact that I would happily watch them twice in ten weeks speaks volumes. Loud volumes.
There’s a short break and then our headliners make their way through the dry ice into the spotlight. I saw Peace at the bottom of the bill in February’s NME tour and thought they were OK. They’ve come on a bit since then. From the opening “Waste of Paint” they absolutely slay the audience, never losing the love. Lead singer Harry “Harrison” Koisser is the multi-seeded love clone of Brett Anderson, Brian Molko and Mick Jagger.
Lizzy-esque twin lead guitars and a groovy rhythm underpin ‘Follow Baby’. I’m sure Koisser announces that they’re from Canada. (They’re not.) I realise that I am older than most of the audience and worry that I resemble the purse-lipped social worker from ‘Misfits’. Only without the buttoned-up polo shirt. And the repressed, tortured sexuality.
Peace have some great great songs. I can’t even see the band during slowie ‘Float forever’, they’re obscured by a thousand Samsung and Apple LCD screens. The highlight of their set, probably the highlight of the entire evening, is ‘Lovesick’, a happy happy bop with 200 bouncing students going riot at the front. (I guess anyone who pogo’s at this time of the year is, literally, a ‘Christmas Jumper.’)
They try out a newie, ‘Toxic’, and that leads into ‘Sugarstone’, their Oasis-meets-the-Cocteau Twins mashup. People start to crowdsurf. With ‘Wraith’ the crowd – if ever there was any doubt – are completely won over. It’s got great hooks and a beating heart and the studes are all over it. The apocalypse is coming with a big smile on its face
They finish the set with ‘Delicious’, a cover of 1998 dance tune…err..‘1998’. You wouldn’t know it’s a cover – they sound great, beginning with a slow slow build to a mighty, flaring, stroboscopic finale. There’s not really time to recover for an encore – lights blare and echoes continue for a minute or two then our heroes return to deal out the finale.
‘California Daze’ is a great big singalong. Peace have *range* and they can build a set. They finish off with “Bloodshake“, sadly omitting the cover of ‘Last Christmas’ with which they’ve spiced up this tour, and the delighted audience sweat and paw one another and depart with broad, dripping grins on their faces. Peace are genuine stars and they make it look easy.
Any criticisms? The whole evening was a bit short – Drenge on at 7:50, the whole thing over by 10. Apart from that, it was great value for money. Two terrific bands, proper noise, proper pop.
It’s Christmas. Happy Christmas, you lot. Peace on Earth and good Drenge to all men. See you at the Fleece in Feb.
Review by Steve Noble