Live Review: The Beths, Peaness + Fresh at Heaven, Charing Cross

I saw The Beths at the Boston Music Rooms back in May this year and instantly regretted not having seen them before, so I was not going to miss out on another gig. What I had not appreciated was what a unicorn of an evening it would be; three outstanding bands on one bill with the sold-out gig at Heaven being The Beths largest headlining show to date.

The opening act were London’s Fresh who burst on to the stage and gave 110% from the off. Fresh by name and fresh by nature; like newly mown fizzy sherbet grass or a blast of tequila-flavoured sea spray. Vocalist Kathryn Woods’ had the boundless energy of Mentos dropped into a bottle of Cola. She sang and screamed, played guitar with wild abandon and threw some pretty excellent rock shapes: foot on monitor, lying on her back, bouncing all over the stage. Props to George Phillips (bass), Daniel Goldberg (drums) and Myles McCabe (guitar) for not taking their collective feet off the gas and I was mightily impressed by a support act who play like they are headlining. It would definitely be worth trying to harness them as a potential new clean energy source.

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Peaness have the power of three-ness; the fantastic nowhere-to-hide tension that comes from all members of the band having to rely on each other for the harmonic interplay and rhythm and there’s nowhere to hide if there’s a duff chord or misplaced beat. No such weakness from Jess (bass), Balla (guitar) and Rach (drums) as they wove vocal harmonies you couldn’t slide a cigarette paper between over a joyous wash of lightly fuzzed pop delight from the chord/riff mix of guitar and bass. You can see the trust they have in each other and they must have played together so much in recent years as they have acquired a live-band ESP that is great to watch. They also have a huge asset in drummer Rach who was my MVP of the night. She has a lightness of touch that belies the strength in her playing and she moved round the kit in an effortless dance of hi-hats, snare and toms. Peaness were amazing and I can see why The Beths asked them to join them on this tour as they are two sides of a shiny pop penny.

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So, deep breath… The Beths. I love all sorts of music and on any given night I could be watching leftfield electronica, spiky indie, psych-rock, softly hypnotic modern folk, ska etc. but floating above all of these in a category all to themselves are a small number of bands who instantly lift my mood and smack a huge smile on my face (see also Wannadies, Steely Dan, Blick Bassy). Listening to The Beths instantly floods my body with a massive pod of endorphins and, like a musical exoplanet, they have more mass than their size suggests. They fill my heart with absolute-sheer-bloody delight (I’m listening to them as I type this review, I’m on my own in a room and I’m smiling).

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The Beths are a perfect breakfast when you’re hungover, the sun coming out on a grey day, finding £20 in your clothes when you’re broke, your train leaving on time and arriving early, a hug from a friend, ice cream, your favourite meal and a free bar. If you need to get somewhere quickly then put them on your mp3 player and it’s quite likely you’ll get there 10 minutes before you set off.

They played all the tracks I love because I love all their tracks. I love The Beths. They are sound and joy in perfect harmony (just like their exquisite vocals) and they meld everything into a beatific whole that transcends its parts.

The Beths, I love them.

Review and Photography by Paul F Cook

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