It’s a Monday and it’s raining but the room is still packed with aging hipsters, cigarette-rolling students and those with the burned-out facial expressions of another working week commencing. Sardined into one room, this runs the risk of killing any kind of vibe, but this is a Honeyblood homecoming gig and the anticipation is palpable. The release of In Plain Sight last month has seen frontwoman Stina Tweeddale flex her talents as a solo artist with sonically rich and synth laden results. However, take these songs and transfer them to the stage and they possess a grittier attitude that the record doesn’t quite deliver, and it makes for an intoxicating musical affair.
Wasting no time with familiarities, Tweeddale & co launch into garage rock charged track Sea Hearts, setting the distortion heavy tone of the night. No longer just a two-piece consisting of guitar, vocals and drums Tweeddale has recruited PINS bassist Anna Donigan, adding extra layers to the band’s rhythm section. The set is littered with some of the band’s strongest singles from the new album, Glimmer and Third Degree being obvious standouts, but it’s Take the Wheel with its fuzzy guitar and heavy but danceable drumbeats that truly stands out among the new tracks. Even with the third album being only a month old Tweeddale doesn’t heavily rely on new material with previous albums getting a fair share of attention.
The track Walking at Midnight from the band’s sophomore album shows off some of Tweeddale’s best vocals of the set on the track’s haunting, reverbed chorus. Sadly, during the first half of the show the Monday blues do serve as the elephant in the room, with the crowd notably taking it easy with the booze and showing a frustrating reluctance to let loose, give or take the camouflage jacket wearing headbanger you find at every gig. Thankfully, the elephant is shown the door by Tweeddale a few notes into fan favourite Babes Never Die which brings the inner expressive dancer out of half the crowd, a scene that would make Radiohead’s Thom Yorke very proud.
The most tender moment is left for one final song after the tribalistic chant of “one more tune”. A smiling Tweeddale steps back up to the mic and jokes, “that’s all the songs they know,” gesturing to her live band. Ending with a solo rendition of Bud gives a rare look at the tender side of the songstress, giving her lyrics and melody much more breathing space that truly brings her talent into focus.
Leaving the venue, the Monday blues quickly settle back in. Very few hang about at the bar as most head out into humid night and ready for another working day, but for an hour Tweeddale lets us all escape our nine to five. That is really something.