Live Review: Honeyblood at The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

On their self-titled, 2014 released 90s alt rock imbued debut, the Scottish twosome announced their arrival on the global scene with a roar. Second LP Babes Never Die (released last November) improved on their already intoxicating sound and was a suitably spellbinding affair thanks to scuzz pop tracks like 'Ready For The Magic' which, eagle-eared viewers will already know (yes, that's a thing...) is also currently scoring Sky Sports soccer coverage. In singer Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale they have a star in waiting and in the relatively new tub thumper Cat Myers the twosome finally have a rock solid foundation to give them the raw power required to melt their audiences faces off.

Needless to say,when it was first announced that Honeyblood would embark on their first ever Irish trek (which perhaps should have been dubbed the “What Took You So Long?” tour) Hot Press was more than a little excited to find out if they were as arresting live as they are on record. But before we get to the headliner, there's the deliciously dark Hiva Oa to sink our teeth into before the main course. Armed with drums, guitars, sequencers and (at one point) what looks like Ziggy the super computer from Quantum Leap, the band make an imposing and unforgettable sound steeped in art rock, jazz and post rock. Vocalist Stephen Houlihan's voice is a joy and his impassioned performance on the likes of 'Astroturfing' wins over the early arrivals, your humble scribe included.

Next up, our headliners self-consciously shuffle onstage, fiddle about with their drum heads and microphones and generally make us feel a wee bit uncomfortable as we wait for the show to begin. After what seems like an aeon, they launch into 'Justine, Misery Queen' and the shaky start is instantly forgotten/forgiven. Laden with melody and sounding powerful, it's a strong opener as they then hurtle through the stomping 'Ready For The Magic' and hypnotic 'Love Is A Disease' in quick succession.

The sound tonight is immaculate, it must be said, with Stina's vocals sounding effortless and clear as the distorted guitars and thunderous drums flesh out the sound. The twisted lullaby that is 'Walking After Midnight' and the euphoric fuzz punk of 'Sea Hearts' are particular highlights, as is their impromptu song for merch lady Hazel and drummer Cat opening a bottle of beer with her belt (don't try that at home, kids, she's a trained professional).

Sadly, there's very little from their eponymous debut aired tonight but hopefully next time they come back they can rectify that.

 

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