Gig review: Peace and Drenge at Leeds Metropolitan University

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Derbyshire band Drenge are a raucous two-piece with sludgy riffs and roaring feedback. They have had a great 2013: positive reviews for a self-titled debut album, a Jools Holland appearance, and even the dubious honour of being Labour MP Tom Watson’s favourite band.

There are good songs buried beneath the rubble: lapses of stoner grooves, thrashy punk rock, and good old fashioned 90s American grunge. But they’re not quite headline material yet. A juvenile streak tends to undermine the real power in their sound. But this is still a strong support show for the boys. We’ll have to wait and see whether the hype machine makes or breaks them in 2014.

If Drenge represent the dark, then Peace are the light. They play the sort of bright, big-chorus pop that makes you forget its December in Leeds and you’re wearing thermal underwear. Their songs garner a huge physical response from tonight’s nubile young crowd. Even the 6 Music listeners are soon nodding along appreciatively in the background.

Dreamy hits like Higher Than the Sun, Lovesick and well-received ballad Float Forever are cathartic, vibrant and sound much larger here than on their In Love album. In contrast to Drenge, Peace reference the British psychedelic revivalists of the 1990s: Happy Mondays’ trippy Manchester beat and the shimmering guitars of The La’s, led by a heartthrob singer with moves like Jaggar.

Musically, the band launch into more flamboyant territory for their wig-out space jams, like on set closer 1998, which sounds a bit like Foals before descending into a calculated, strobe-induced frenzy. The vibe is ultimately at odds with the rest of the set but it’s a strong spectacle nonetheless, and persuasive enough to want to join the pampered crowd in the posh mosh.

Gig date: December 2

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