LIVE REVIEW: Black Midi, Brudenell Social, Leeds, 22/11/2021
Black Midi are a band like no other. Admittedly, that statement about bands has been said a million times, but when it comes to Black Midi, I don’t think many would argue otherwise.
Without a doubt, this comes across in their live show. Approaching the stage 20 minutes later than they said they would on Twitter is always a bit of a pain, but as I said Black Midi are one of a kind, making a normal entrance just isn’t their style as a boxing announcer leading the band onto stage proceeds to boast tales of their undefeated record and titles to their name.
As soon as the first 953 riff started playing, people got moving, and the wait seemed like a thing of the past. In typical Black Midi fashion, the 953 lyrics were completely abandoned in favour of lead singer Geordie Greep’s murmurings of Leeds and their opinions on well, whatever is going on his head.
However, there is no denying the strength of this raucous opener, not many set openers come close, with its bombastic rhythms and it happens to contain a drop that puts all other drops in rock music to shame. Sticking with theme of their debut Schlagenheim, Speedway followed and kept the energy in the crowd at a peak; it was a hell of a start.
Then in vintage Black Midi fashion, the next seven out of eight songs they played were unreleased. Greep had spoken in an ‘interview’ on fellow post-punk band Shame’s YouTube that the band had nearly finished their third record over a year ago, so knowing the band’s work rate, the crowd at the Brudenell in Leeds probably witnessed tracks that won’t be released for years and years to come.
Having had a peak at the written setlist the left of Greep’s foot, some of these tracks come in the form of Still, The Defence, Lumps, Sugar, Welcome to Hell and the aptly named Eat, Man, Eat. None of the tracks were bad by any means and got the crowd going, but a few Black Midi virgins may have been slightly confused as to why no one was singing but everyone was moving.
There were virtually no breaks longer than a few seconds in the set, as when tracks were not on, band members would be riffing, playing samples, drumming, or whatever they wanted. In doing so they kept the energy up very well, and also showed off just how talented every member of the band is.
A lot of their released songs they played were changed up too, with the band members often deciding to play their own fills they make up on the spot rather than what they wrote in the studio however many months ago, but you’ll hear no complaints from us as it is astounding to marvel at the talent of these five men.
Take drummer Morgan Simpson, his fills and energy throughout the gig is unmatched. Of course, his own personal accolades of 2014 young drummer of the year aged 15 shines through in this gig as his sheer ability is just out of this world, and the energy and passion he brings to drumming adds so much to the gig.
Saxophone player Kaidi Akinnibi put absolutely everything into the performance, before entering Brudenell on Monday 22nd November, I had no idea that saxophone players could shred, and then Akinnibi came on the stage. It came to the point where at the end of the set he was lying down in a pool of sweat, and Greep demanded “by the power of kung-fu” he came back alive.
As the set went on, the last few songs approached, starting with Chondromalacia Patella, which really got the crowd going, it was a relief to hear some songs you could really get into it as everyone knew them and it was as if the crowd went up a notch.
The Iron Maiden-style riff that begins the drop accompanied by Simpson’s thunderous drumming is fantastic in the live environment, it’s as if you’re at a secret Maiden gig for a minute, which is one hell of a feeling.
Lead single from their latest effort Cavalcade – John L – is a masterpiece that is done complete justice live. Despite, its almost-insane rhythms and stop/starts, the track seems like every garage rock band’s worst nightmare, but of course, these kinds of tracks come second nature for a band like Black Midi.
Finishing with two tracks in the form of another lively unreleased song in 27 Q, and Slow – a track sung by bassist Cameron Picton that ebbs and flows through boisterous explosions of sound, it’s a good way to finish the set, and let the crowd get the remaining energy out of their system.
It was a fantastic gig, with the only blemish being the band opting to not play the majority of the fan favourites in favour of unreleased tracks, although new fans may be disappointed, those who have been round the block with Black Midi are no strangers to this feeling.
Black Midi are brilliant performers who will put on a live show more than worth your while, expect them to play brilliant music, but not necessarily the music you’d expect. However, their live show does more than enough to get your feet moving Greep-style.
Written By: Joe Loughran