HONEYBLOOD PLAY HALLOWEEN SHOW, IT’S A WET DREAM FOR FIN H.B.

There are no bands I know of that I would rather have seen on Halloween than Honeyblood. Few groups match their unceasing focus on the darker side of things. Present throughout every album is an encroaching darkness, an insight into the worst side of ordinary people, the sort of evil everyone will one day encounter. If you haven’t yet, buckle up. All this is wrapped up in a sound nearly equally as sinister, they’re enticing like the promises of the devil, though hopefully with less fatal outcomes for the listener.

Hell, should one require further confirmation of their commitment to darkness, beyond the music, one need look no further than lead singer Stina Tweeddale’s frankly adorable black cat by the name of Lucifer. Truly a fitting companion for a modern-day witch (read the Halloween 2019 print edition for elaboration).

On the night, their performance is pretty damn good. There’s a surprising lack of singing along to Super Rat’s angsty hook, which generally summons a collective “I WILL HATE YOU FOREVER!” and a surprisingly large mosh pit emerging for the more upbeat songs from second album Babes Never Die. Newest single Bubble Gun sounds fab live too, and strongly reflects a more first-album sound compared to the rather more unique, atmospheric tracks from the third album In Plain Sight, most notably A Kiss From The Devil and Tarantella, whose quiet-loud-quiet patterns border on grungy, yet have a nuance and modernity that largely escapes the genre. It’s also an excellent segue into a mock gunfight with somewhat haphazardly dressed Martians, to introduce the Halloween costume contest which, if I recall correctly, saw a mime leaving victorious with an assortment of merch. If only I had managed to get my Vincent Vega outfit sorted in time…

Photo by Noralí Emilio @ Covent Garden

With Honeyblood, live shows are always interesting because nothing sounds fully like the recorded version. Stina Tweeddale is the only constant band member. Original drummer Shona McVicar left after the release of their eponymous debut album, with replacement Cat Myers taking over on tour, and staying on for Babes Never Die. On the announcement of the third album, Myers’ departure was announced, and Honeyblood is currently a solo act on record, with drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson and bassist Anna Donigan stepping into tour.

 

Knox-Hewson puts her own style, heavily aligned with IPS, on every track. She’s less frenetic than Myers’ intense, fill-laden style, giving breathing room for the busier soundscape created by adding a bass and some synth tracks to the mix. While I do miss that drumming energy on many of the tracks from Babes Never Die, its certainly a more suitable sound for both the newer and older records.

 

Donigan’s presence marks the first time Honeyblood have been a three-piece, the first-time initial intentions of having a traditional full ‘rock’ band set-up have been fulfilled. I’m not fully convinced, however, that a bass was the best choice for a third instrument. Tweeddale’s adaption to being in a two piece has resulted in a rather dark guitar tone, which leaves little room in the low end for bass. It works really well on some of the poppier songs, but for tracks like Choker, the bottom end feels a little, well, choked and crowded.

Photo by Michelle Jimenez

Given the prevalence of synths throughout the third record, and on my personal favourite Honeyblood song, Love Is A Disease (which wasn’t played), perhaps a dedicated synth, or at least a track-by-track split of synth and bass would be more appropriate. That’s not to say the bass doesn’t mostly work, it’s just perhaps not the choice I would have made to fill out the sound from an external perspective.

 

Regardless of opinions on live sounds, I’m excited to see where Honeyblood go next. Tweeddale’s solo writing shows that she is an exceptional songwriter, capable of covering everything from piano ballads to hair-raising punky stompers. Which way record four choses to go is anyone’s guess, but it will doubtless get there with typical darkness and aplomb.

 

And yes, I missed the support band. I know I’m scum (great Idles track btw, go listen yo) and I’m sorry I want to support people but being a radio presenter on Thursdays can get in the way sometimes.

 

I think Fin wants us to tune in to his show, but I wont give him the satisfaction – Ed. Milo

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