Opening for the four-piece are London-based YAK, who bring their huge and heavy experimental rock back up North after also making an impact at Sound City earlier this year. The enormous sound that dominates the set and rattles the O2 belies their modest line-up of three skinny, long-haired, baggy-shirted lads. They’re a force not to be reckoned with though; drummer Elliot Rawson beats his kit so fiercely and relentlessly that bits of drum skins and metal land as litter on the stage floor and his gnarly-looking bandmates must manoeuvre around the debris. Permeating the set are guitarist Oliver Burslem’s stand-out deep and whirling solos; the talent is evident, although the songs seem to merge into one, but as a band who “don’t do set lists” maybe that’s what they’re going for.
Next up in our trio of bands with monosyllabic names are another London-based indie five-piece, SPLASHH. A lot mellower than their predecessors, their brand of surly shoegaze is a little lost on a crowd gagging for Peace, not quiet. The young’uns pick up a little though for set highlight All I Wanna Do with its sunshine riff – a little like The Velvet Underground’s Rock ‘n’ Roll with added reverb – and washed-out wistful vocals.
After lots of chanting and other juvenile behaviour, Peace emerge to an eager crowd and commence with O You, the catchy opener from their latest release Happy People. It’s all one big 90s love-in. The four-piece pay tribute to the decade in which they were born, in both their haircuts and songwriting, with hints of Oasis’ Supersonic and Stop Crying Your Heart Out, Stone Roses basslines and a homage to Nirvana running through the set. You can’t help but think the whole package must be label Columbia’s wet dream: the 90s are everywhere, from baggy clobber to television to festival headliners, and Peace are capitalising on this. Maybe it’s the hormones running high, but the crowd is marked distinctly by what can only be described as teen hysteria, all girls on shoulders and shouty sing-a-longs.
The band aren’t all style no substance though; euphoric set-closer California Daze is imbued with intricate guitar sounds while infectious fan-favourites Bloodshake and Wraith, which feature early on in the set, showcase this dexterity further.
Egged on by adoring fans, Peace encore with Lovesick, a track so close in melody and lyrics to The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love it’s a wonder they haven’t been sued yet, and finish up with the brilliant bass-driven and cleverly coined World Pleasure. The young’uns lap it all up like a troubled teen phenomenon. I leave feeling older than old; the babes on the other hand all look elated, skin glowing with zeal and perspiration.