Honeyblood – The Bullingdon, Oxford

A while ago I wrote this review of a Honeyblood gig in Oxford for our local Nightshift Magazine. Here’s a reprint:

It still amazes me how much noise two people can make. Since Honeyblood last played Oxford, two years ago, a lot has changed; drummer Shona McVicar has been replaced by Cat Myers, the new duo have released a second album, Babes Never Die, and generally Honeyblood’s star has been rising. But the most important things have stayed the same; they’re still playing edgy, angry garage pop tunes with fury and vigour.

Tonight is no exception. The pair open strongly with new banger ‘Ready For the Magic’ and old hit ‘Choker’, after which they venture into lesser-known territory, playing the entirety of the new album; it’s an admirable gamble, but the sheer strength of their songwriting makes it work out well.
What’s up with the crowd, though? After a lukewarm response to the first few songs guitarist/singer Stina Marie even comments that we’re always so polite in Oxford (“It’s because of the dictionary,” replies Myers). Turns out we’re not polite after all. The first time some guy shouts “shut up and play songs” – after an admittedly rehearsed bit of band banter – Stina decides to let it slide, even though her face reveals her fury. The second time though she calls out the rudeness, pretending to cut the show short. Luckily for us she doesn’t, even though they would’ve been more than right to walk away; so-called rock stars have done it for far less.

In yet another act of verbal abuse, another bloke from the crowd demands the duo “speak English” in response to their discussion of selkies, creatures from Scottish folklore. And no, this isn’t just one guy, and yes, they are all guys. With that kind of atmosphere it’s unsurprising there are almost no women here. What’s the point of ‘Babes Never Die’ (the band’s unofficial slogan as well as the album title) then? It’s on us, who come to these shows, to create an environment that’s welcoming to everyone. So please, next time you’re standing next to someone shouting abuse, call them out, or let a member of staff know. And if that guy was you: fuck off and never attend another gig.

Honeyblood end the gig with a run of amazing songs: a fiery rendition of old-timer ‘All Dragged Up’; an improvised serenade to merchandise seller Hazel; the infectious album title track, and ‘Super Rat’ and ‘Killer Bangs’ to close, the two highlights from their debut. By now everyone’s convinced: Honeyblood will never die.

‘Convinced’ is indeed the right word. I’m still not sure of the merits of Babes Never Die, and it’s telling that the gig’s best moments were when they played their older tracks. But convinced I am, because the duo’s (and especially Stina’s) sheer energy is unstoppable, whatever they play.

-- Caspar Jacobs, January 2, 2017