Black Midi at Somerset House
From the sweaty furnaces of their early shows to the grand courtyard of Somerset House, Black Midi show no sign of change. The pedal remains firmly pressed to the floor as the BRIT School success story celebrate the release of their third album: the appropriately named Hellfire.
At a time when the British public can only talk about the heat, it must be divine intervention (or perhaps something more sinister) that Black Midi would deliver such a scorcher of a record, and its intensity is clear for all to see – and hear – at their Somerset House show. On stage are three things resembling both the walking terrors of War of the Worlds and some mystery sea egg from the depths. Ambiguity is simply part of Black Midi’s charm. Resisting the simplicity of their math-rock designation, the band walk on to new single Sugar / TZU, a prog melange that infuses their usual breathtaking speed with delicate lapses of tinkling piano and Geordi’s Greep’s haunting falsetto.
As a frontman, Greep is transfixing – a man out of time in his dark suit and wing-collared shirt, yet pouring forth a narrative that’s so fresh it could only be from the future. Esotericism touches every part of Black Midi’s music, particularly Greep’s lyrics, so it is a shame that so much of his surrealist witticisms disappear into the pink night. Nevertheless, the improbable, sprawling depth of the band – kept in line, somehow, by the unstoppable force of Morgan Simpson on drums – give a rich, ever-changing performance. Fans of their early work might leave disappointed, but the outing of new tracks like Welcome to Hell and Eat Men Eat are thrilling previews of what’s to come.
Bizarrely, but not entirely out of character, the band segue into a short prelude of Tyler the Creator’s Yonkers before erupting into Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of. Tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, they give a full and proper treatment of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, which compliments Greep with almost uncanny grace. Even Pavarotti could not avoid being sucked into this musical menagerie.
For the full Black Midi experience, fans should find somewhere dark and close to the earth’s core, but if not it will still be one hell of a ride.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Black Midi’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Eat Men Eat here: