Music Editor Faith Parker reviews Black Country, New Road at The Crossing on the 12th May, which was a triumphant celebration of friendship
‘Look at what we did together/ BC,NR, friends forever’; Black Country, New Road played to a sold-out crowd at The Crossing in Digbeth on the 12th May, with support from Lou Terry, and it was a triumphant and joyful show between friends. This was their first tour since last year’s announcement that Isaac Wood, the lead singer, would be leaving the band. There has been much speculation since then about the future of Black Country, New Road as a six-piece, without Isaac’s distinctive, impassioned vocals and song writing. Live At Bush Hall, which was released in March, eradicated any doubts; it was an assured comeback and a natural progression from the more melodic Ants From Up There.
The band paraded on stage to MIKA’s ‘Grace Kelly’, to which the crowd responded with enthusiasm, and slight amusement, at the choice of hype song. Lewis Evans then came in with the saxophone, an abrupt transition to the start of the celebratory ‘Up Song’. As the most energetic song on the album, ‘Up Song’ had the crowd bobbing up and down and enthusiastically singing along, as the drums and piano kicked in. Whilst joyful, the song is bittersweet, acknowledging the band’s success to date, but also hinting at the departure of Wood.
During ‘The Boy’, which is made up of different sections, the audience cheered every time a new chapter of the song was announced, amusing the band. The crowd appeared restless to begin, people around chatting through quieter points of the songs and shouting out to the band. However, BC,NR took this in their stride and enjoyed the interactions. ‘The Boy’ was followed by an unreleased song, ’24/7 365 British Summer Time’, with Lewis Evans on vocals. During the song, he took the opportunity to introduce the band, a seamless way to incorporate this into the set without breaking up the flow of music.
‘I Won’t Always Love You’ was mesmerising live, a melodramatic number drawing similarities to Mitski, driven by Tyler Hyde’s vocals which have the fervency and range of Wood’s. ‘Across The Pond Friend’, one of my favourites from the album, was a sweet, yet still passionate moment in the set, with Evans singing about dreaming of someone. Live At Bush Hall is theatrical (I’m hoping for a BC,NR musical in the future…) and demonstrates their prowess at storytelling.
A particular highlight of the show was the unreleased, sprightly track ‘Horses’, the only BC,NR song to date with Georgia Ellery on vocals. Ellery’s soft, whimsical voice is no secret, as she provides the vocals for Jockstrap, her other project with Taylor Skye, experimenting with alternative, electronic music that is a step away from Black Country, New Road. The crowd cheered with delight as Ellery stepped up to sing and were enchanted by the song, which was light and playful.
The third unreleased song of the set, ‘Nancy Tries To Take The Night’ began with a gentle, acoustic build up with Tyler Hyde and Luke Mark on guitar. ‘Turbine/Pigs’, the ballad of the album, shortly followed, which was beautiful live. The track, which features May Kershaw on vocals, can be likened to ‘The Place Where He Inserted the Blade’, one of the most moving songs the band have produced. Kershaw holds the majority of the song, playing alone on the piano, before the band join for a staggering crescendo, bursting into a magical and transcendental instrumental.
Hyde sadly announced that the show was nearing an end before moving into the magnetic ‘Dancers’ and the emotional reprise of ‘Up Song’. After, the band united together at the front of the stage to take a bow as the audience cheered. The success of BC,NR lies in their friendship and enjoyment playing together, which was evident throughout the gig, alongside their musical talent. Whilst Isaac Wood will always be missed, the development of the band showcases the range of talent within the band and their unique vocals. Black Country, New Road have embraced change and we will have to wait in anticipation to see what they do next.
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