BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD
@ THE CONCERT HALL, TORONTO
SEPTEMBER 15, 2023
Black Country, New Road have gone through quite a few changes since they first came onto the scene in 2019 with the electrifying singles “Athens, France” and “Sunglasses”. Their debut album that followed in 2021 was a dark introspective post-punk album with volatile spoken word lyrics along with free jazz and klezmer elements. However, four days before the release of their second album, the baroque-inspired Ants From Up There, lead singer Isaac Wood shocked fans by announcing that he was leaving the band due to mental health issues. Because of this, their first-ever North American tour was cancelled and the remaining members of the band got back to the drawing board.
Their latest album Live at Bush Hall is a collection of live songs the band wrote so that they had material they could perform without Wood. The group has since taken a more upbeat approach to their new music while still maintaining the same improvisational feel as their previous work, with saxophonist Lewis Evans, bassist Tyler Hyde, and keyboardist May Kershaw now sharing the role of lead vocalists.
The London group paid homage to Toronto by walking out on stage to the song “God’s Plan” by Drake as the crowd cheered relentlessly. They opened with “Up Song” and “The Boy” before playing more music from their latest album.
The band teased two unreleased songs “24/7 365 British Summer Time” and “Nancy Tries to Take the Night” the latter of which had guitarist Luke Mark slowly strumming along on the banjo before the song speeds up and then back down again. Black Country, New Road is great at contrasting very quiet, despairing moments, with exciting ones. “Turbines/Pigs” was a perfect example of this, with the opening half of the song so soft that you could hear people in the audience cracking drinks open. The song builds into an intense crescendo however and Charlie Wayne’s drumming during this was exceptional.
The group ended the night with the last two tracks off Live at Bush Hall: “Dancers” and “Up Song (Reprise)”, leaving their fans excited for what’s to come next from the enigmatic British band.
“That’s the end of the show,” Hyde said, “next time I promise we’ll have much more songs”.
(Photography by Cory Barter)