Peace @ O2 Academy Birmingham

Hometown fans remain as ‘In Love’ with the band, as ever.

Gracing the Birmingham O2 for the first time since 2013, Peace arrived back home as a band with something new to say.

Their new LP, ‘Kindness is the New Rock and Roll’, released earlier this month, centres on lead singer Harry Koisser’s battles with depression, showcasing the growing maturity of a band once better known for its more infectious, sun-tinged anthems.

Not seen at the venue since the release of debut album ‘In Love’, the four-piece were then at the forefront of the media-hyped ‘B-Town’ movement. An in-joke that stuck as a red-faced label for the many slacker-indie bands emerging from the city; all playing their own version of a 70s-spangled sound.

L-R, Samuel Koisser (bass), Harry Koisser (lead vocals, guitar), Dominic Boyce (drums), Douglas Castle (guitar).

The band’s subsequent releases, though, have seen them adopt a more hard-hitting approach, helping to create a distinction between themselves and other so-called ‘B-Town’ bands, Swim Deep and Jaws.

But glimpses of their earlier sound remain, and the air of reminiscence was never far from the surface for this Birmingham crowd. The ever-popular ‘Bloodshake’ reared its head just two songs in, sparking a singalong scene more akin to student night in Snobs, as fans lauded their hometown heroes.

And euphoria remained, as the first new track played out. In its lyrics ‘Power’ signals a message of self-help and positivity; wrapped in confidence, and sculpted as a walking soundtrack. The crowd lapped up the new material.

The band holds a strong bond with its audience. Their appeal lying not only within their music and style, but also with their personality. Exemplified by the lyrics in the ferocious ‘Perfect Skin’, the band’s songs are overtly self-conscious and unashamedly self-aware.

A potent mix of style and outcast swagger, however, means that local fans couldn’t help but catch reflections of themselves in their lyrics. An inherent closeness, meaning that when the band delved deep into the back catalogue with the equally intimate and audacious ‘1998 (Delicious)’, fans couldn’t help but indulge.

Brothers Samuel and Harry Koisser thrived on the crowd’s atmosphere.

The ebb and flow of this 10-minute epic may long have been cut short by others, wary of taking such risks. But, failing to waiver in their assuredness, Peace played on. Their daring celebrated amongst the crowd.

And this poignancy continued to pour out. ‘Magnificent’, another new track, leads with the chorus “So don’t give up on me just yet, someday I will be magnificent”. Slow enough to allow full contemplation, the band have never been ones to hide from emotion.

Coupled by the lead single from the new album, ‘From Under Liquid Glass’, the honesty throughout ‘Kindness..’ is encapsulated by its most telling line, “I’m left alone with my big fucking mental head”.

Though, despite its subject, the crowd’s intense connection saw the song evolve into something more: a celebration. The power of music had brought together like-minded people, all fully embracing the struggles of mental health. Love filled the room, as the realisation hit.

A feeling only made deeper as, bereft of his band mates for the song, Harry Koisser proceeded to tell the crowd how he penned the lyrics to ‘Float Forever’ whilst sat upon a bridge, not far from the venue. Full respect was shown throughout this muted singalong. Each word, travelling from across the city, was acutely felt.

Pictured during his ‘Float Forever’ solo, Harry Koisser showed his vocals to be at a new level throughout the gig.

To outsiders, ‘Kindness is the New Rock and Roll’ may seem like an optimistic, maybe even throwaway, title for an album. But in these more trying times, the band showed they are more about action than words.

Having discovered it was a fan’s birthday during the show, they were duly invited up on stage to be embraced and serenaded by the band. Prior to this, their willingness to please the crowd, had seen them perform a hurried cover of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ – in May.

As the sweat-filled evening came to a close, the band resisted the urge to call for an encore, instead choosing to end on a high. ‘Lovesick’  aptly played out the gig. And the chorus line, “I wanna get lovesick with you” bore repeating.

Every word revealing the adoration felt for the band, and the timely importance of their return. Birmingham remains as in love with Peace, as ever.

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