The band delivered an incendiary display at 953 miles per hour at the opening show of their three-night residency in Leeds. Review by Maddie Player.
Anyone who’s been to a Black Midi gig knows the drill: strap in because you’re about to be whisked away into a whirlpool of mosh pit pandemonium whether you like it or not. Their show at Leeds’ beloved Brudenell Social Club was no exception. One might consider it an ‘intimate’ gig considering they played a sold-out show at Alexandra Palace just two weeks prior; ‘insane’ seems like a more appropriate word.
As the lights dim and the spectators stir, the hyperbolic voice of a disembodied ring announcer declares the band ‘currently undefeated in their campaign, with 3.5 million wins…all by knockout’, announcing themselves with true characteristic Black Midi irony. Tonight’s five-strong line up swagger onto stage, unfazed by the eager crowd clawing at their feet.
Frontman-guitarist Geordie Greep detonates the night’s event by hammering out the furious opening riff of 953, inevitably spawning an audience-devouring mosh pit which will thrash about relentlessly for the remainder of the evening. Just like their outstanding debut album Schlagenheim, 953 is followed by Speedway, although they play an updated version of the song. The repeated, mellow chords which roll like waves in the recorded track now pummel the room, amped up and angry.
The show is also interspersed with smatterings of comic relief. Bassist Cameron Picton alters lyrics to plug ‘Leeds United’, and some of the band engage in an orchestrated fight. In fact, the instruments of the band often seem as if they are brawling, as frequent collaborator Kaidi Akinnibi’s saxophone howls in response to the roars of the strings in Chondromalacia Patella. Whilst the overall performance is wonderful chaos, Black Midi undoubtedly have a sensitive approach to their craft. Fellow frequent collaborator Seth Evans enriches Dethroned with carefully placed flourishes on the keys, whilst Picton swaps his bass for guitar for unreleased track Eat Men Eat, wielding these strings just as comfortably as his bass.
Black Midi allow no time for you to catch your breath, the performance’s momentum is consistent with no sign of flagging; the ‘3.5 million wins’ start to seem slightly less far-fetched as you try to roll with their unrelenting punches. The flow of fillers and transitions between each song evoke an image of a constant stream of consciousness inside the eccentric head of Black Midi, were it an entity. Music only ceases when their songs call for it, such as the mind-bending pauses in John L.
The final blow comes with slow, although it’s anything but. Morgan Simpson brings the song - and set – to its thrilling crescendo, crashing with awesome precision and sheer might on his kit. The brilliant cacophony of his drums makes it hard to believe he has been playing at 150% for the whole hour and fifteen, there is not a shred of fatigue to show for it.
Emerging champions of contemporary experimental rock, long may their campaign continue…
Their latest album Cavalcade is available to stream now and tickets for the rest of their UK/European tour can be found here.