We’re excited to see South London 3-piece BLACKEYE for the first time. Fronted by Chloe Little, the band pushed out the video for feisty and catchy “Spin” 6 months ago. We were hooked and wanted to see how they perform live.
On arrival here at Liverpool’s music bar Zanzibar, the crowd is still forming and Blackeye are getting set up on stage. Even before they leap into action, you already get a sense that Chloe is going to ooze charisma off the low stage, and we have no doubt that she’ll go from taking up the mic to blasting non-nonsense vocals in under 60 seconds. She’s dressed in a white crop top, black mini, her platinum blonde hair falling around her cheeks, and she’s focused.
As Chloe does indeed belt into the first song with real attitude, the venue starts to fill up, with two guys dancing like maniacs directly in front of the singer, raising her eyebrows as she stares upon with approval-slash-bemusement – she looks ready to crack a big smile and shake hands with them. But she’s got the business of power singing and bass-playing to attend to first.
Chloe Little is simply pouring sass and style into the venue. She’s an intriguing combination of coy girlishness and the immediate fuck-you-don’t-fuck-with-me warning that comes with the lyrics and her vocals. Strutting confidently with her bass, she’s leading this band with aplomb, the male members doing their job brilliantly but staying in the background – the perfect dynamic for this band. The message is loud and clear: Don’t mess with her – at least not while she’s on stage – because not only could she thwack you with the arm of her bass, but she’s likely to think much less of you as a person. She has something to say and she has standards, you know.
The sound is reminiscent of the female-fronted guitar bands of the 90s – they have a grunge pop sound which we appreciate, and solid hooks that many bands struggle to develop. The harmonies are not great live on some of the tracks, and I’d really prefer to hear Chloe’s vocals ring true, not drawn back by the harmonising of her guitarist which dilutes the impact of the lyrics and distracts – but that is easy to remedy. It’s important for this band to be comfortable with Chloe taking the lead because this is a ‘ready made’ band which is indeed (sorry for the 90s song pun) ready to go.
“Spin” is of course performed amazingly, and I’d argue this is one of the best songs to come out of the UK for a while. Chloe is charmingly grateful for the applause which is getting louder throughout the gig, all the way to the end. We all want this to go on for a little longer, but they have to go. It’s been short but very, very sweet.
You can’t help but feel that if it were still the 90s, Blackeye would be right up there with the Sleepers and Elasticas – they may need to do a bit more work to get recognised in the current climate, but they could definitely do some real damage in the UK scene now. We need a strong female-led band to shake up the industry, and this could very well be them.