Black Spiders and The Hot Damn! Live Review From The Lens Studio, Portsmouth, 17th September 2023

As the weather began to turn from its random September heatwave into something much more fitting of the time of year, something is occurring in one of the many areas of Portsmouth Guildhall.

Continuing the drama of the impending storm outside openers Electric Milk are heard to say “This is our last song, but as our singer quit today, this might also be our last gig…” which would be a shame judging from the sounds of bouncy modern punk-infused rock heard upon entry.

Next up though is The Hot Damn! Striding on stage all jumpsuits and big sounds they immediately win over anyone who didn’t decide they love the band just from the merch table (more on that later) with high energy performances of Fizz Buzz Crash and Dance Around. Gill Montgomery has come on as the frontwoman since her days in The Amorettes – and she was totally fine at doing it then – while Josie O’Toole (also with a brief stint in The Amorettes on her CV) seems to be punishing the drums for something, beating them like her last ever gig from start to finish.

After Live, Laugh, Love the band sing The Merch Song resulting in the entire audience clapping, cheering and smiling and many then buying the highly colourful merch including everything from hoodies to coasters and bucket hats. As the last notes of I Didn’t Like You Anyway ring out it’s clear The Hot Damn! have made some new fans tonight.

After what seemed like way too long a break, the lights dim and the intro tape starts up as Black Spiders take to the stage – strip lights making the transparent drum skins look amazing, guitarists playing behind their head, everyone in the band giving it the beans as they play their brand of rock and roll… and the sound is terrible.

Whether it’s the decision to have three guitars in a band playing that style of rock or just the venue it’s impossible to tell, but no words are decipherable and that guitar solo behind the head may as well have been mimed, as when anyone plays any sort of solo, it is getting lost amongst the chords.

That being said, between songs Pete Spiby includes the audience (and can be heard) showing off all the tassles on the sleeve of his rock star jacket and songs like Alright Alright Alright and Wizards Shall Not Kill Wizards go down a storm. The highlight of the set has got to be bringing everything down to make introductions and Pete starting things off with two random members of the audience for everyone to cheer.

It was a top night with top bands playing top rock, just a shame Electric Wizard’s set got missed and the headline band somehow had the worst sound of the night, but as the venue emptied into the now lightning filled sky, which soon led to monsoon levels of rain, it was clear Black Spiders can ride any bad weather.

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