You could hardly accuse Brighton band Black Peaks of being short on ambition; debut album ‘Statues’ lit a fire beneath the band in 2016 and it’s one that’s still blazing as they mark the release of their second album ‘All That Divides’ with a headline tour. Upstairs in Dublin’s Grand Social is hardly big enough to contain them at this stage of their career, a 250-capacity venue that doesn’t often put on shows of this kind.
With a strict 11pm curfew in place, they’ve got to make every second count; and this is something they prove themselves more than capable of, bounding on stage and tearing into ‘Can’t Sleep’ with wild abandon, the track’s mixture of math-rock riffs and soaring melody ensuring they have the crowd on their side even before the end of the first song. There’s a sense of crackling energy in the room, and though this is only the second show on a tour that’s due to run for the guts of a month, there’s no sign of nerves.
The versatile vocals of front man Will Gardner come through loud and clear as the quartet flex their progressive rock muscles on ‘The Midnight Sun’ – the first of a few six-minute tracks to be wheeled out tonight – before recent single ‘Electric Fires’ and ‘Crooks’, the latter a fan favorite from their debut album, inspire some moshing at Gardner’s behest, though the eager first few rows at the all-standing venue hardly need the encouragement; and the high-octane introduction to ‘Eternal Light’ sets them off almost on cue, the track serving to highlight the band’s tightness as a live act (no less impressive than their previous incarnation, with founding bassist Andrew Gosden replaced by Dave Larkin last year midway through recording their second record).
The band take the energy levels down a notch or two for their new record’s emotive centrepiece ‘Aether’, a song described by Gardner on stage as being about his ongoing battle with anxiety and ‘having to deal with everything that’s going on in the world’. It’s one of the highlights of the set, with Liam Kearley’s expressive drumming holding everything together as it unfolds, striking a balance between aggression and catharsis, and setting up the bombastic scream-along ‘Say You Will’ wonderfully as the band’s set draws to a close.
It’s left to a ferocious rendition of ‘Glass Built Castles’ and their new album’s closing track ‘Fate I & II’ to bring the curtain down on proceedings, which the band do as forcefully as you might expect. with Gardner making his way through the crowd during their set-closer to end the show precariously positioned on the bar table. Even though a couple of songs need to be cut for time (when we said strict curfew, we meant it), Black Peaks leave little to be desired, showing the crowd exactly why they should be headlining much bigger rooms. With a high-profile support slot for Enter Shikari’s UK tour early next year, the band are set to have a very busy 2019 by the looks of things – next time they hit Dublin, it might not be somewhere as intimate as this.