Honeyblood are on a UK tour at the moment, and last night they played to a lively crowd at the Garage in Islington. It was Hallowe’en of course and could have been our last day as a member of the EU. Thankfully that’s been put off for a bit longer, so last night we could just concentrate on enjoying the show. This was the first time that the songs from this year’s album “In Plain Sight” featured strongly, aside from the three singles “The Third Degree”, “Glimmer” and “She’s a Nightmare”. Back in April, when I saw them in Leicester, there were outings for “Gibberish” and “Turn the Wheel” as well, but we’d never heard them before and the sound was a bit murky. Stina was also getting used to her new backing band, I thought. Now they are a very slick machine and last night they played with real zest and a sense of fun. They’d donned their silvery sci-fi gear which featured on their recent single “Bubble Gun” and were in a festive mood. Stina has written on social media that after this tour she plans to take some time out from touring, so this was maybe the last opportunity to see her perform for a while. If it is, she is going out on a high.
I loved the set, which was longer than usual. They played 19 songs, with 8 from “In Plain Sight”, 4 from “Babes Never Die” and 6 from the first album, “Honeyblood”. Plus “Bubble Gun”, which is a real glam rock stomper. All the “old” favourites, like “Babes Never Die”, “Sea Hearts”, “Ready for the Magic” (a rousing closer for the main set, as ever), “Super Rat” and “Killer Bangs” were there. And it was nice to hear “Walking at Midnight” again – the perfect song for Hallowe’en. I enjoyed hearing songs like “The Tarantella”, “Touch” and “A Kiss From the Devil” live for the first time, and “Gibberish” had emerged from the Leicester murk to become a real rocker. They opened the set with “The Third Degree”; “Glimmer” and “She’s a Nightmare” came towards the end and are now up there with those old favourites as staples of the set. Great rock’n’roll songs.
The encore was interesting. First Stina came on alone and played “Bud”, from the first album. That’s one she’s favoured when she has played her solo sets. Then the band came back and they played one for the aficionados, “No Spare Key”, again from “Honeyblood”. Stina is drawing a lot on that debut album – it clearly means a lot to her personally. Her musical roots. “In Plain Sight” is a slicker, less raw (in sound) album than its predecessors, although the lyrics remain very personal. And the songs from it are really flourishing live. I hope it won’t be too long before we see Stina, with or without band, on stage again singing all these wonderful songs.