Black Country, New Road

Live At Bush Hall Black

Ninja Tune • 2023

What does a live album need to offer? The whole idea of a live album is to have well-known songs performed by well-known performers in slightly altered (but not too altered) versions in front of an ecstatic audience. Black Country, New Road failed to offer any of the above. Here’s what happened ahead of the three sold-out shows at Bush Hall in December 2022: First, the band captured the hearts of both listeners and critics alike with »Ants Form Up There«. Shortly before, however, Isaac Wood announced his departure from the band. Farewell album then? Somehow. And somehow not. Because Black Country, New Road simply reinvented themselves. Tyler Hyde, May Kershaw and Lewis Evans now share the vocals. The band developed new material to reflect the new line-up, which they tried out directly on stage. As Kershaw said, »We wrote the new tracks with live performances in mind and thought it would be a good idea to release one of the performances.« After listening to the nine songs on this album, all that can be said is: It’s only too true. »The Wrong Trousers« drags itself in front of tired guitar towards a grand finale, »Across The Pond Friend«, on the other hand, ramps it all up right from the very start. In the process, Black Country, New Road sound like a digestible version of Arcade Fire covered by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A wonderful album full of variety from a band that always knows what they want regardless of the circumstances. And accordingly a live record like no other.