Live At Bush Hall- Black Country, New Road | By Katherine Trebra
Top Tracks: Up Song, Across the Pond Friend, Turbines/Pigs
Following the departure of lead singer Isaac Wood in February 2022, the remaining members of Black Country, New Road promised to never perform the songs they wrote together during his absence. Thus, Live at Bush Hall was born: a live recording of the nine songs BCNR has been touring with for the past year. It is a fantastic collection of material that had a short run, forever destined to remain live.
Live at Bush Hall feels like a renewal, like a breath of fresh air. Previously dominated by Wood’s voice, the band has introduced three lead vocalists out of the remaining six members: May Kershaw, Tyler Hyde, and Lewis Evans. Each singer uses their own style to show a different side of the band. Their respective songs each carry a different feeling which showcases Black Country, New Road’s versatility. The sudden departure of their lead singer was not a limitation, but rather an opportunity to grow and showcase the talent that listeners didn’t see before. Before Live at Bush Hall, BCNR stayed in the confines of the post-punk sound they are most known for. Here, they begin exploring different genres, like Kershaw’s three-part folk song (seen in “The Boy”) or Hyde’s indie rock (“Dancers”).
The opener, “Up Song”, serves as a message to the listeners that Black Country, New Road is not done yet. Cheerful chants of “B-C-N-R friends forever” chop up the most powerful instrumental they have made yet. Evans’ saxophone blares, the drums roar, and the crowd cheers in excitement. While not the most lyrically advanced piece they’ve written, “Up Song” is a reminder that yes, BCNR is still here and the bond they have made together transcends the band and music.
One of the desirable traits that drew fans to Black Country, New Road was the amount of thought put into their lyrics. Within each song, one can find endless references to themes and names. I was happy to see that BCNR kept that quality alive past Ants From Up There. In “Laughing Song”, Hyde’s penultimate testament to the band, she references the other songs on the album in a powerful yet almost devastating chorus, creating a blazing melody involving turbines, trousers, and dancers. Evans sneaks in a reference to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” in “Across the Pond Friend”, changing it to a toast to May Kershaw (“I was doing it like May”).
The real showstopper of this album is “Pigs/Turbines”, one of Kershaw’s two tracks. Being the longest song off the album, the buildup is insanely beautiful. The piano is soft, and the flute is hesitant, showing Kershaw’s reluctance to be regarded as human. “Don’t waste your pearls on me, I’m only a pig,”, she cries, lamenting over the keys. The drop occurs around the seven-minute mark, the violin and Kershaw’s piano combining to make a rhapsody that left me speechless the first time I heard it.
While the album sounds unsure at times, it shows the perseverance of the band and their dedication to finding their own sound. I can’t wait to see what Black Country, New Road has in store for the future!