Live Review: Master Peace – Headrow House, Leeds, 15.03.24

Rolling Stone said Master Peace is “leading the way for a new generation of indie stars”. He’s out on the road with his debut album How to Make a Master Peace, which is a piece of work that, although hard to define into a specific genre, is bristling with energy and feels at once very British yet like nothing else out there. 

Peace Okieze certainly isn’t afraid to take a risk, and it shows on this album with the breadth of sound and influence on show. Tonight, in a sold out Headrow House, the slick sound and infectious energy spills over and sends shock waves through the crowd.

The lights go down to the strains of Bailey and Collins’ Easy Lover, not, if I’m honest, the tune I thought Master Peace would take the stage too. It’s well judged though, as the young crowd sings along and the energy is high, as Peace bursts through the crowd and on to the stage with guitarist Danny Snowdon.

Peace struts then bounces around the stage in his vintage-style adidas, owning the space with a confidence and swagger that belies the humble man that sits behind the stage persona. From opening track Veronica (with a little segue into Arctic Monkey’s I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor) to the very end, this was a blitz of pure energy, an artist really finding his voice and delivering it to an audience that understands exactly where he’s coming from.

There are positive message in the songs, which he stops to explain – I Might Be Fake – a collab with the brilliant Georgia on the record – is about taking time to ensure you’re being yourself. Panic 101 talks of the anxiety and uncertainty growing up. You can see this makes sense to a crowd in their own formative years, finding their way, their style, their own way of being. Master Peace, and artists like him, have a crucial role to play in showing people the way – what you can do, if you back yourself, and have the courage to be the person you know you are inside.

I don’t want this to sound too worthy though. Throughout, the crowd are shouting back the lyrics, mirroring the dynamic movement of Peace and generally tearing up the tiny room above Headrow House. Songs like Start You Up are infectious, with Peace off the stage, in amongst the crowd dancing, grabbing phones, making content as he performed, much of which is hastily shared during and after the show, cutting through the algorithms, and growing his fan base.

You can see the joy on the faces of those clustered around this endlessly energetic performer, appreciating the privilege of being up close to an artist who is really on the rise. Speaking to fans beforehand, they’re excited about the prospect of seeing Peace in this setting, where you are close, almost in conversation with the artists, rather than the detachment of a huge arena set. The music tonight is big enough to work in those larger spaces and would probably benefit from a more complete band on-stage. The basslines in particular are great on the tracks, but picturing this with a bassist who could lay down those lines in a live setting would be epic, and I hope that’s where we end up, next time I see Master Peace play.

By the time we get to the end of the set and Get Naughty, the place is, as instructed from the stage, “losing its shit”. Peace by name, but not by performance – it’s frenetic, energetic, infectious and happy. There’s not a face in the room that isn’t smiling at the end, as Master Peace comes straight off stage to chat, sign, pose for sweaty selfies and be the man of the people. This is the closeness, the access that I spoke to people about before the show. And right now, Peace is in his element, Master of all he surveys.

Stream How To Make A Master Peace on all the usual platforms

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