Northampton Roadmender isn’t hard to find. Swing into Northampton, take a left through the wormhole and you’re there: back in your teenage years. Unfortunately, you’ve aged horribly and everyone else is exactly the same age.
So there we stood, in a queue of teenage girls trying to down their own body weight in unmixed spirits before they got into the venue and chain-smoking like there was no tomorrow. Which, for some, was a very distinct possibility. Doors were supposed to open at seven, but it was a good 45 minutes later when we finally started to trickle in. Maybe it was a deliberate ploy to filter out the lightweights and liabilities; we were personally witness to one girl vomiting and two early leavers while we patiently waited, but there were probably more.
Finally in, and after a snakebite black at the bar (when in Rome!) it was time for Neighbour, who also seemed to have fallen victim to the wormhole. There was nothing wrong with them; kind of like a Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana vibe. Worth checking out if you’re into that type of thing, but nothing to write home about. As is often the case with support bands, the final track was far and away their best.
Luckily, the arrival of Peace is where things seriously started to pick up. Crashing straight into ‘Higher than the Sun’, they delivered a set that was weighted perfectly between first album and second. They played enough off the new record to whet appetites, without approaching the tracks with the presupposition that they’re already fan favourites (with the album being released just a week before).
Despite this, it was clear that fans had been doing their homework and getting to grips with the album in the short time they had before the show, learning the lyrics to their favourite tracks so as not to feel left out when they were the only ones who didn’t know the words. In between these future favourites, the band covered every great moment from their debut album In Love.
Last time we saw Peace live (supporting The Libertines at Alexandra Palace), ‘California Daze’ had been the best received track, yet this time it was dwarfed by ‘Float Forever’, ‘Lovesick’ and ‘1998’ from their 2012 release, EP Delicious. This is a testament to the strength of their early material, so many highlights that each performance can hone in on a different point.
It remains to be seen whether Happy People can live up to the strength of Peace’s impressive back catalogue. I’m a firm believer that instantly classic albums are anomalies; it’ll be in six to eight months time when the songs are engraved in our psyches that we’ll know the album’s true worth. But, based on these early signs, the future’s shiny.
Photos by Dan Hess.