Black Country, New Road

Black Country, New Road Released “Live At Bush Hall”

Black Country, New Road
Photo by Holly Whitaker

Today, Black Country, New Road have premiered a live film of entirely new material taken from their three sold out back-to-back shows at Bush Hall in December 2022. The film premiered on YouTube at 5pm and comes ahead of a film screening that will take place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London at 8pm tonight.

In early 2022, Black Country, New Road released their UK #3 album “Ants From Up There” (their second Top 5 UK album debut in 12 months, following their Mercury Prize shortlisted debut “For the first time”), which was lauded by fans and critics alike, gaining numerous 5* reviews and appearing on end of year lists across the globe, including being voted #1 by fans on r/indieheads, Rate Your Music and #3 by Pitchfork readers. All of this despite being released just days after frontman Isaac Wood announced his decision to step away from the band.

Fresh from the success of “Ants From Up There” and with a full touring schedule ahead of them in 2023, remaining members Lewis Evans, May Kershaw, Georgia Ellery, Luke Mark, Tyler Hyde and Charlie Wayne, now a six-piece, decided to write an entire new set of material to perform.  They played to swelling crowds at festivals, including triumphant performances at Primavera, Green Man and Fuji Rock, entering a new musical phase as they navigated and developed songs that were just weeks old. They also toured the US with black midi and headlined two sold-out shows in New York.

These new performances saw the band garner widespread support from across the board with Rolling Stone UK describing their Green Man set as “unmissable”, and the Guardian going on to say that they were “greeted by something close to rapture.” These performances have also attracted a profile from the NY Times, multiple glowing live reviews, and a nomination for Best Live Performer at the AIM Independent Music Awards last year.

As the songs continued to develop on the road they decided to avoid conventional next steps. People waiting on new material have eight new, excellent songs to hear, but not in the way they might have expected. “We didn’t want to do a studio album,” says BC, NR pianist May Kershaw, who is one of the three band members, along with saxophonist Lewis Evans and bassist Tyler Hyde, now taking on vocal duties. “We wrote the new tracks specifically to perform live, so we thought it might be a nice idea to put out a performance.”

The result is a filmed live performance, directed by Greg Barnes and mixed by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, that took place over three nights at London’s Bush Hall. “It’s about capturing the moment,” says saxophonist and now vocalist Lewis Evans. “A little time capsule of these eight months that we’ve had playing these songs on the road.”

Despite the lack of studio material up to now, the three sold out shows in December saw an audience there ready to sing back every word of these new songs, learned from online clips and YouTube recordings alone, a nod to both the band’s resilience and to the dedication of their tight knit community of fans.

In typical BC,NR fashion, the idea of doing a filmed live performance in a tired and predictable way held little appeal. “We had concerns from live sessions we’ve seen or done in the past,” says guitarist Luke Mark. “They are very obviously clumped together visually from multiple performances. That can take you out of the performance and make it seem artificial and like it’s not actually live. So we came up with the idea to make the three nights look visually distinct from one another. To scratch the idea of trying to disguise anything. We wanted it to be very honest and let people know that we had three goes at it. This isn’t just us playing the whole thing non-stop.”

Each night has its own distinct theme and aesthetic inspired by amateur dramatic performances, based around school plays, a pastoral scene and a haunted pizza parlour called, yes, I Ain’t Alfredo No Ghosts. There’s even an end of school prom party. “We came up with fake plays,” says Evans. “And wrote a fake synopsis, dressed as the characters, and made programmes and sets for each play. It was really exciting and made it a lot more fun.”

They also enlisted friends and fans to help. Some helped make things, including mucking in to paint and build the sets for each night, while others were given cameras or instructed to shoot phone footage. All of this has then been put together to create a distinct visual language that weaves in and out of styles, timelines, narratives and perspectives. “We thought: if we’re gonna do a film, then make it personable,” says Mark. “And a lot of our fans, especially when we were putting this stuff together, played a huge part in spreading the songs which meant that people could listen to them without us putting them out in the first place. It felt good to do the film in a way that involved the people who’ve been vital to keeping the whole thing afloat.”

It also means the feel of the film has the ability to transport viewers into the pulsing heart of the gig, often at crowd level. “It makes you feel a lot more like you’re there,” says Evans. “When you see, like, I don’t know, John Mayer at the Nokia Ballroom or whatever, it just looks like you could never ever be there. These things seem so inaccessible. But this is like you’re literally in the room.”

While this is a platform for the band’s excellent new music, this is first and foremost a film the band stresses. “We want the focal point to be this film,” says Wayne. “We’ve put a lot of effort into making it feel like you’re watching a live gig. It’s not an album in our eyes, it’s a live performance.”

As the band look ahead to the rest of 2023 they are set to play further live dates across the world including shows and festivals in Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Europe, and a short headline tour in the UK. Dates are as follows:

Feb 25 – Geneva- Antigel Festival
Mar 5 –  Hong Kong- Clockenflap festival
Mar 7 – Taipei, Taiwan – The Wall
Mar 11 – Chon Buri, Thailand – Pelupo International Music Festival
Mar 17 – Bali, Indonesia – Joyland Festival Bali
Apr 4 – Nagoya, Japan – Club Quattro / クラブクアトロ
Apr 5 – Osaka, Japan – Umeda Club Quattro / 梅田CLUB QUATTRO
Apr 6 – Tokyo, Japan – Spotify O-EAST
13 – 15 April – Motel Mozaique festival, Rotterdam
May 2 – Southampton, UK – Southampton 1865
May 3 – Leeds, UK – Leeds Irish Centre
May 5 – Dublin, Ireland – 3Olympia Theatre
May 7 – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK – Newcastle University S.U
May 8 – Glasgow, UK – Old Fruitmarket
May 9 – Manchester, UK – Manchester New Century Hall
May 11 – Norwich, UK – Waterfront
May 12 – Birmingham, UK – The Crossing
May 13 – Bristol, UK – The Marble Factory
May 15 – Cambridge, UK – J1, Cambridge Junction
May 27 -Herne Hill, UK – Wide Awake Festival
May 30th – Barcelona, Spain – Primavera In The City
Jun 1 – Barcelona, Primavera Sound festival
Jun 5 – Madrid, Primavera In The City
Jun 8 – Madrid, Primavera sound festival
Jun 9 – 11  – Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands – Best Kept Secret Festival
13 – 16 July – Superbock Super Rock Festival, Lisbon
20 – 23 July – Bluedot festival

Tickets are available HERE





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