Black Foxxes – Exeter Phoenix, Exeter (Live Review)

Black Foxxes: poignant, dynamic and architects of my album of the year. Another convention that they thrust so forcefully to the world however, is their ability to execute colourfully energetic live shows – and in pristine fashion, their recent Exeter endeavour was a characteristically roaring success.

Opening said evening were Magpie, a new addition to the world of light rock. Soft, intelligently-penned lyrics, with provoking musical counterparts, led for a sound that was agreeably optimistic for the four-piece’s future. Lacking however, was an attention-grabbing and demanding stage-presence – nevertheless, that’s a factor that will grow with time undoubtedly. Considering that it was their second ever gig, one can’t be too critical. I look forward to seeing them again after a few tweaks and growth spurts.

Second on the bill were Big Spring, a group that sounded like a mutated love-child of Incubus and Queens of the Stone Age. Suitably impressive, and with a refusal to create anything contrived, the four-piece were proficient in delivering hard-hitting rock with an incandescent stage-presence, and enough quirks to keep the most restless individual transfixed. Evidently, they were also a band with enough firepower to consider themselves to be on par with the headliners – which in this case, is a compliment of the highest order.

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With time and fruition, the group will go far. Would I listen to their music on record currently? Probably not. But I’d see them live a thousand times over for that lurid stage-presence that shone so brightly.

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Closing the evening were the reason for my three-hour car journey to the venue: the one and only Black Foxxes. With bated breath and a catalogue of their songs in my mind, it would be a lie to state that I was anything other than enthusiastic for the set ahead.

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Performing track after track of quality contributions, the trio were the very definition of sentimental vitality. Mark Holley’s lyrics were sung with genuine emotion, and Tristan and Ant of the rhythm section were as captivated by their own endeavours. The last time that I bore witness to the three-piece was in June. There, I observed a group who needed a tad more polishing with regards to their togetherness. Saturday night however, saw a pristine band who were composed and unified throughout their set. They were enchantment personified.

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Highlights of the set included an audience participation during River, and an eloquently meaningful deliverance of I’m Not Well. I’m terms of quality, I could have been listening to the band’s record. Yet given the intense atmosphere that the group were able to project, I was glad to be crammed into a sweaty venue with other fans losing their minds over the talented offerings.

Watching a truly deserving band rise the ladder of success is one of the most satisfying parts of being a music journalist, and nothing is more nourishing than watching Black Foxxes be applauded by a sweaty, exultant audience.

Words by Keira Trethowan
Photography by Craig Taylor-Broad

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