After the the unfortunate blaze at Exeter Cavern the week before, it was with great luck that the Black Peaks and Heck co-headline tour moved home to the smaller, 125-capacity Voodoo Lounge just around the corner at the Exeter Phoenix. Despite not being built to usually hold such large-scale shows, the dance-studio-by-day room did prove to be a special replacement, selling out quickly – and the show went on!

Opening the night came brand new London-based group This Be The Verse, who arrived with their fresh heavy industrial sounds. Proving their mettle with a sound similarly related to a cross between Nine Inch Nails and the wildness of Rammstein, the frontman was equipped with both strong vocals and a tambourine – crazily often running into the audience to shake his instrument in the air. The group’s stage presence alongside their pre-recorded electronic backing instrumentals impressively added to their set and gave a rather professional and clean aesthetical appearance – which aptly suited their music style. Though they contrasted a lot to both tour headliners in sound, they provided a successful warm up for the following groups of the night despite being such a brand new and underground band in the live scenes.

With the night being given to Heck to close, Brighton’s Black Peaks brought the thunder earlier into the evening – and getting the small venue appropriately sweaty and heated up. Playing a large proportion of their debut release Statues from earlier this year, fan favourites ‘Saviour’ and ‘Glass Built Castles’ went down heroically with the crowd. As the band’s first show in Devon, many had waited a long time for this opportunity – and the reaction they were greeted with in return for their visit was incredible and definitely worth the trek down west.

Despite initial technical problems involving the DIY stage made of platforms and a problematic microphone, the group powered through the set with their usual strong passion and enthusiasm, alongside Gardner’s incredible-as-always vocals on tracks ‘Set In Stone’ and ‘Say You Will’. The title track from the bands’ debut EP ‘Closer To The Sun’ also made a welcome appearance, dedicated for all the ‘old fans out there’ – to which quite a few audience members were pleased with. The set overall was such a triumph, and the love they were greeted with really indicated how well they are doing as a band – especially so far down the country (with Devon often being an area harder to sell out shows for smaller bands in recent times), so we can definitely expect them to be back soon!

Finally, to bring the sweaty night to a close came Nottingham’s finest (and maddest) Heck. Of course, the set was not short of their usual madness – with vocalists/guitarists Jonny Hall and Matt Reynolds climbing everything and everyone around the small dance studio. From fan-favourite older material from what felt like a lifetime ago, to the best of their debut album ‘Instructions’, the setlist wasn’t short of moshable tracks. It also helped with Jonny and Matt continuously running into the audience, as it really got each individual involved with them and with each other – resulting in a lot of movement throughout literally every song in the hour+ set.

It almost felt like the pair were in need of wireless guitars at certain points, but the craziness of tripping over them and repeatedly breaking the mic stand always adds to their set – that exact rawness and punk approach of their live insanity works so so well, and is what really encapsulates their band. As the headline slot of the particular tour date, a surprise came from all 16 minutes of ‘I See The Old Lady…’ performed live in full – the finale track of their album and the closing song of the night. Despite feeling like it would never end, the sound was massive and their ability to play the track with 100% effort all the way through was incredible, never stopping to stand still. You could definitely tell the crowd appreciated and loved that too, as the mosh never stopped either. Despite mostly only regularly playing in Plymouth, fans of the band were absolutely everywhere – proving what a success and delight they are down in Devon.

This Black Peaks and Heck article was written by Caitlin Damsell, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : MAX J STYLES

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