Giving Peace a Chance

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“They’re a band I used to like”, I tell my family and coworkers upon announcing my Wednesday evening plans at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, London.

That’s not to say I currently dislike Peace; but they’ve definitely seen more prosperous days within my listening habits. I first found Peace when I was in college in 2012 – their Delicious EP containing ‘California Daze’, ‘Bloodshake’, and their signature cover of ‘1998’.

Soon after came In Love, their debut album, an indie rock effort with heavy tinges of Britpop. Those heady days of falling in love with In Love, through college and into university, made some fond memories: insisting that their CD got played in my friend’s VW Beetle on the way to college; adopting their cover of ‘Last Christmas’ as my official Christmas anthem of 2013; watching the FIFA World Cup in Greenodd and going wild upon hearing ‘World Pleasure’ for the first time; making two friends on Instagram, united by our interest in Peace. I think their names were Ant and James. Maybe they’d be at this gig, I thought to myself.

Peace are a symbol of youth – my youth. The naivety of their lyrics, coupled with the occasional childlike inflexions on frontman Harry Koisser’s voice, remind me of a less cynical time, where love and sex were unexplored articles, and working life was a whole degree away. We all try to cling to our youth.

So here I am. Chest hair tucked in a glittering ‘Lovesick’ T-shirt, thick thighs in skinny jeans, and Bags For Life under my eyes. I was under the impression that indie people still dressed this way. But no. Everyone here is fresh-faced, with lavish hair, a wavy, Manchester dress sense, and a carelessness that beckons the suspicion that they won’t need to get up for work in the morning.

I’ve recruited former SCAN Associate Editor Chris Bickley as my +1 for the evening – he and I look around desperately for some proof that, at 22 and 23 respectively, we’re not the oldest punters in the room; thankfully Chris quickly spots a middle-aged couple behind us, and we can both relax.

This is good news for Peace; something I feared before attending the gig was that their latest release, Kindness is the New Rock & Roll, may be the last album they support. It’s more notable for its label change – Columbia to Ignition – than for its sonic change. The songs could easily have been recorded in the same sessions as In Love or follow-up Happy People. The law of diminishing returns has proved true on this album, yet the amount of young people in the audience suggests that their popularity has not deteriorated as the quality of the albums have.

The primary support, Irish trio Whenyoung, are a fresh-sounding, female-fronted foil to the headliners’ sound. Having supported Peace’s Midlands mates Superfood at the end of last year, this feels like an astute choice. The penultimate of their six-song set, ‘Pretty Pure’, typifies the band’s sound and reflects the headliners’ carefree spirit.

Ongoing mosh pits are only spared for the new songs. Even the more tender tunes have their (somewhat tame) drop pinpointed by the fresher fans. Yet their 2018 output, of which seven tracks were performed, receives only sheepish reaction. Does this mean that the crowd don’t believe kindness *is* the new rock and roll? Or is it because they don’t know when the point of moshing is on these songs, still less than two weeks fresh to their ears?

From the balcony it’s easy to ponder these things – Chris and I had resorted to going upstairs once it became clear that the moshing would be relentless. Yet I’m furiously whacking my thighs and screaming hoarse to every pre-2018 song they choose to play. Youth is fleeting. Maybe Peace won’t be foreverever, but they have brought sentimentality to someone separated from their adolescence.

Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll, the new album from Peace, is out now!

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