Guildhall Arts Centre, Gloucester
April 21st, 2013
It was a night of classic, 90’s Alterna-Britpop (or whatever you wish to call it) in Gloucester, when Peace and Superfood rolled into town. LTW’s Simon Barton caught the show.
If you wait long enough every musical trend will come around again in time. Who remembers the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal? The New Wave Of New Wave? Nu-Rave? And now who’s ready for the New Wave Of Britpop? I know, it’s quite a frightening thought: a new generation of Menswears and Mansuns, ready to underachieve on a minor scale. But… in the depths of the Black Country something is stirring. New, frighteningly young and talented bands are bringing a fresh, paisley-patterned take on the music of the ’90s, crossed with the ’60s, crossed with the future…
First up on this Sunday evening in Gloucester’s Guildhall Arts Centre are Superfood, who may seem at first glance to be the B-Town Blur but have more to offer. There’s definitely a Graham Coxon feel to the fluid guitar sounds but the band also control the pace and intensity of the songs in a way reminiscent of Pixies or Nirvana, while injecting some funky grooves into the mix, especially on the self-titled ‘Superfood’. This bass-driven feel gets the kids up and dancing, bouncing on the Guildhall’s sprung floor like pogoing kangaroos. Superfood’s guitarist tells me after the gig that this is the best reception they have yet received on this tour. They’d better get used to it. Superfood may seem slightly lacking in confidence right now, but they have the tunes, the voices and the grooves to take their nutritious sound all the way.
After the inter-band mixtape concludes with the not-all-that-incongruous Rare Groove of Lee Dorsey’s ‘Get Out Of My Life Woman’, four long-haired, floral-shirted lads take to the stage and the place explodes. By the time the chiming, choppy, Stone Roses-y guitars and surging bass of ‘Follow Baby’ have crashed into a squall of feedback, the band have the crowd eating out of their hands. Although singer Harry Koisser – supercool in velvet jacket – seems hesitant when addressing the audience directly (he has that Robert Smith trait of mumbling incoherently into the mic) the band as a whole are filled with an ultra-human confidence as they detonate their colour-saturated songs. You’d have to be pretty confident to name the first track on your album after one of Primal Scream‘s most iconic numbers (‘Higher Than The Sun’) and get away with it. Which they do.
Peace are already proficient at creating different moods with their songs. Their most commercial moment, the heavily indebted to Britpop single ‘Lovesick’, is far less candy-coated when played live, while the beautiful ‘Float Forever’ does indeed seem to float above our heads, its seeming darkness giving way to a sun-kissed optimism and striving for more: “If you don’t climb atop the Eiffel / You’ll never fall or die…” Or soar or live, for that matter.
Although the likes of ‘Waste Of Paint’ and ‘Delicious’ veer closest to the days of flares and beany hats, the band always pull it back with something idiosyncratic and fresh – a Foals-like riff here, a coruscating guitar solo there. Towards the end of the set they briefly abandon the short, sharp songs for an extended, epic guitar freakout which almost raises the spectre of Hawkwind in its churning riffology… and is one of the highlights of the night.
They are at their best when spreading the psychedelic good vibes of ‘Sugarstone’ and the aptly-named ‘California Daze’, a warm ray of musical sunshine with some glorious harmonies. These are refreshingly innocent and optimistic songs of love and, indeed, peace. To old, cynical minds this might all seem like hippy nonsense, but it makes perfect sense in Peace’s blissed-out, loved-up world. And it makes sense to all the young girls clamouring after the show to catch a glimpse of these self-styled “PsychLads”. It’s an upbeat, romantic, forward-thinking philosophy and, God knows, we could all do with something that positive these days. When Peace ask “Were you born to live or born to die?” there’s only one possible answer…