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HONEYCRACK - Sheffield Leadmill
11 February 1996

Review by Chris Wooding of Sheffield Electronic Press

Honeycrack + Schtum

You really have to question the wisdom of Honeycrack, for choosing the Leadmill as a venue for their tour this time around when they barely half-filled the Park only a few months ago. There were probably around about 200 people at the gig tonight, and that left a lot of empty space in a venue this size. Still, hot on the heels of the successful 'Sitting at Home' single and the impending 'Go Away', both taken from their forthcoming album, the band were certainly not going to let anything like that spoil their fun tonight.

Schtum opened the proceedings, fresh from a swathe of impressive reviews from music magazines such as KERRANG! and the NME. Melodic, loud, with jagged rhythms and an overall sound reminiscent of Joyrider, they came up with a powerful performance for an initially apathetic crowd. Their brand of music is difficult to classify, a kind of punk/alternative metal blend, blasted out with an enthusiasm and animation which gradually began to affect the crowd.

The bass player looked somewhat out of place on one side, his hippy-like image clashing with the aggressive skinhead look of the rest of the band; but it would be shallow to say that it had any kind of bearing on their music, which was certainly above-average, if not as spectacular as the popular music press seem to think. They left the crowd suitably warmed-up and eager for the main attraction.

If you want fast, dynamic rock layered in wholesome chunks of sugar-sweet harmony, look no further than Honeycrack. I have rarely seen a more impressive live band, and it has to be said that their music comes across a lot more effectively in a gig environment than on their clinical and over-produced singles. The charismatic presence of CJ and the witty and derogatory crowd-banter of lead singer Willie Dowling formed the frontline for their assault, but the other band members enjoyed themselves just as much, bashing out their heady, angelic melodies with consummate ease.

There's a lot of harmony in Honeycrack. With five singers and three guitarists, they have an enormously full and thick sound which is not readily apparent on their studio releases. But here, in the Leadmill, their sound was just awesome, sending the crowd at the front into a frenzy. There was plenty there for the moshers at the front, but there was just as much for the people who preferred to stand back, watch and enjoy instead. Some of their stage moves were so slick that they could have been choreographed, and they never put a foot wrong throughout their set, which had been considerably reworked since their last visit to the Park.

Whatever the size of the crowd, Honeycrack are undeniably a brilliant live band. Their visit to the Leadmill was a standard against which other bands should be measured. With bands like Oasis seemingly abhorring the idea of moving anything beyond their fingertips on stage, it is refreshing to see a band who are just as animated and exciting to watch as they are to listen to.

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