Puppy live review – London, The Black Heart

Upcoming alt-metallers Puppy mark a small victory live in London

Puppy band live in London 2016

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On one of the hottest days of the year, it’d be ludicrous to spend the evening in one of London’s smallest venues without any ventilation. Unless, of course, you’re a Puppy fan.

Just over 100 bodies are crammed into the upstairs function room, the air thick with sweat, waiting for the lo-fi alt-trio to address the elephant in the room: can they actually pull it off live? On record Puppy are a honed, ethereal body, but so often this connection is lost outside of the studio. No such worries tonight.

Looking like they’re from three different bands entirely, Puppy aren’t ones for bombastic charisma but allowing the music from new EP Vol II to do the talking. The floating, swirling guitars swell and build, tugging at the hearts of London, while animalistic drummer Billy Howard ricochets around the venue and understated frontman Jock Norton pours on the haunting yet oddly comforting vocals. Throughout the night, umpteen cans of silly string are sprayed into the air and onto the ceiling, creating a noxious environment of body odour and chemicals. This is probably dangerous, but the Puppy elite stand their ground to imbibe My Tree, Arabella and the frankly massive closer, Entombed. Drenched in red light with their logo overseeing the stage, Puppy probably need a few more gigs at this level to really find their feet, but something wicked this way comes.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.