The night’s swansongs come from London-via-Cambridge lot Black Country, New Road. Part of their immense appeal has always been that the combo feel like a village community brass band suddenly possessed by satan; their trade is evil sax and violin breakdowns, an exercise they routinely perform in oversized knitted sweaters. The band’s many members jostle through a packed crowd and pick up their instruments – a transition that sees them instantly go from an affable bunch of youths to a London equivalent to The Village of The Damned kids.
They open with an extraordinarily intense number, that pivots instantly from insane virtuoso sax meltdowns to sauntering grotty fanfare – sax player Lewis Evans showcases an unreal versatility and a peculiar charisma as he makes these all-powerful exorcisms. It’s a relentless track that sees frontman Isaac Wood cock his head back slightly and murmur “I guess I’m a little late to the party” when the music is at its most feral.
The set’s highlight comes from their latest single ‘Sunglasses’, which the band flash through towards the end of their set. It begins with a fumbling American Football guitar intro, laying the groundwork for Wood’s cold and non-judgmental spoken word observations about a life of privilege. As Evans’ sax and Georgia Ellery’s violin takes you away melodiously, before Wood cries: “and things just aren’t built like they used to be – the absolute pinnacle of British engineering.” The latter part of Sunglasses is the highlight of the band’s set, the animalist yelps come atop terse Sabbath riffs and maddening strings motifs. “I’m more than adequate/leave my daddy’s job out of this,” Wood howls, before the track collapses in the frenzied chaos that this band do so well.
Black Country, New Road are one of Britain’s most exciting bands, their ability to combine the neuroses of Slint and American Football, the dynamic powerhousery of Swans and Godspeed! and the biting semi-spoken word observations of TV Personalities, gives them an immensely fresh and enthralling sound. Indeed, like Squid on Thursday night and Black Midi last year, they make being able to actually play your instruments to a high caliber cool. Sometimes it’s easy to be down on the way of the world and the art contained within it, but if the future is as dazzlingly exciting as it seems when Black Country, New Road are on the stage, then perhaps it's worth waiting around for.