Peace @ The Scotch of St James

Ah, the endless perks of Twitter: hourly pictures of kittens, having the option to tweet the Pope, and of course being amongst the first to find out when a band you like is going to play a free gig- which is exactly what happened to me last Tuesday when Peace announced via their Twitter page that they’d be playing two free gigs at the Scotch of St. James on Thursday, adding that it would be ‘first come first served’. It would be doors at 6pm for a 16+ show, and 10pm for an 18+, and despite knowing it would probably be the busier show as the band is kind of marketed towards younger people, I went for the earlier one, to take the edge off travelling back.

I somewhat regretted this decision as I arrived at the venue to be greeted by a queue about seventy people long and took my place behind a group of teens clad in ironic hipster shirts, smoking cigarettes and drinking K cider. This would have been OK if the hour and a half wait hadn’t actually been a two hour fourty-five minute wait. Oh yeah, and it was raining.

When we were eventually let in, and had walked down some steps into the basement venue, I was struck by how miniscule the place was. Was this the pre-show bar, I thought? Was it the cloakroom? Nope, it was the actual venue, but it could have also easily passed for someone’s living room. Hats off to the organisers though – given the (very) limited space available, they had tried hard to fit as many people in as humanly possible, in fact it felt a bit like I was involved in some sort of world record attempt.

As I struggled to manoeuvre against several other rain-soaked teens, who by this point were yelling ‘Peace, Peace, Peace’, excitement began to majorly kick in. There was something exhilarating about being tucked away in a crowd in this teeny underground room, with the promise of live music barely a metre away.

After much anticipation, the band finally emerged to face the now deliriously excited crowd, and got straight into one of their new songs, ‘Money’, to which everyone sang along, (despite the fact it was only released on YouTube about two weeks before). Feeding off the energy of the crowd, Peace then launched into catchy fan-favourite ‘Follow Baby’, and by this point a sort of manic rhythm had developed between us, meaning you had to sway and jump in time with everyone else or you’d be forcibly crushed at the side-lines.

Crowd surfing was also a risky business, with people being flung into the air just shy of the low ceiling. The band seemed to acknowledge the slight chaos, adding that they were ‘going to do a quieter one’ before playing ‘Float Forever, which is a real lighters-in-the-air type anthem.

They played two live debuts – the first being ‘Lost On Me’, which was immediately catchy and is sure to win over fans. The second was ‘World Pleasure’, which had a touch of funk, and a cool breakdown in the middle exposing a nice bass riff. It made me think that perhaps with their new album Peace are edging away from the pop formula of songs like ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Wraith’ (crowd favourites on this occasion) in favour of a little experimentation. Who knows? What I do know is that this taster of their new stuff made me eager to hear the rest of their new record, which I presume is out later this year, although it’s unconfirmed.

Overall, the gig was great fun, and the fact it was free gave the feeling that they were truly playing for pleasure. The last time I’d seen Peace was early last year, not long after the release of their debut album In Love, and their sound still seemed to be a little rough around the edges, but I personally think that’s part of their slightly grungy charm. Their engagement with the crowd had definitely improved, which may have had something to do with them being just literally inches away. At nine songs long, the set was short but sweet, and, although I hate to say it, made me kind of wish I’d come wearing an ironic hipster shirt. No, I take that back.

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