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finleykesteven
26th March 2023

Live review: black midi at Village Underground

Experimental post-punk outfit black midi brought their show to Village Underground, showcasing material from lockdown album Calvacade
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Live review: black midi at Village Underground
Photo: Paul Hudson @ WikiMedia Commons

black midi took to the stage for the third night of their four-day stretch at Village Underground, to perform a setlist based on their 2021 second studio album, Cavalcade. 

In true black midi fashion, the evening was ordered chaos and continuously surprising, with the only real options being to either stand back and admire the pure musicianship or to be thrown in with the ‘Kangaroos’, as described by frontman Geordie Greep, in some of the most aggressive mosh pits I’ve ever seen.

Not many bands can make an hour-and-a-half feel like 15 minutes, but as clichéd as it may sound, these guys are unlike any other band around right now. From a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Breathe’ and the balladry of ‘Ascending Forth’, to incredibly complex performances of their songs ‘Chondromalacia Patella’ and ‘John L’ that I can only really describe as Frank Zappa on speed mixed in with King Crimson at their most bonkers, you can never know what to expect at a black midi gig.

Since their arrival from the Windmill scene in Brixton in 2017 and then signing to Rough Trade Records in 2019, black midi seem to only be improving in both the music itself and their presence in live shows, and have become known for their bravery in experimentation and ability to command a venue. It’s brave to try and class this music into a conventional genre, but if anything, I would say jazzy, avant-prog post-punk fusion suits best. It seems this band was created to be heard live, and therefore it’s difficult to describe a concert of black midi without simply saying you need to experience it for yourself.

The band performed the unreleased song ‘Magician’ which showcased not only their abilities instrumentally as usual, but also gave us a chance to witness the development of Greep’s vocal and lyrical ability. You can focus on any member of the band throughout the show and be impressed, and this becomes even more apparent when they switch instruments for different songs. For much of the show, you’re questioning how it’s possible they follow their time signatures, or whether there are three drummers or only Morgan Simpson, who you can see on stage.

Despite their massive stage presence and effortlessly tight instrumentalism, it becomes clear how they refuse to take themselves too seriously. This is seen further from their Ed Sheeran diss track and Taylor Swift covers to improvisational jamming and theatrics on stage that can make up a pretty large proportion of each live performance.

All good bands have a sense of humour to make them more well-rounded and less pretentious, and part of the reason black midi are so well-liked and admired is that they seem to just be normal guys enjoying playing their instruments together on stage, only they’re some of the most talented musicians around.

 

You can listen to black midi’s latest album Hellfire here:


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