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LIVE REPORT: Black Midi At Brixton Windmill
Patrick Clarke , January 29th, 2019 13:31

Paddy Clarke gets his head blown clean off, and he loves it

Photo by the author

It’s one of those days where everything’s going right, apart from a rail replacement bus from Falmouth. It gets me to Truro just in time for my connection to Plymouth, and the strange man who keeps staring at me and waggling a bottle of wine with a grin gets off before I change onto the final train to London. When I get to Paddington, TFL is in my favour, and a handy bus-tube-bus gets me to the Brixton Windmill, just in time to barge my way to second from the front for Black Midi.

They’re a band I’ve heard a lot about, and a band from whom I expect a lot - a band to reignite a love of guitars that has lain dormant since I saw the Fat White Family in Liverpool half a decade ago (with Lias in a shirt that read "Keep Buying The Sun").

Black Midi take their time soundchecking, singer and guitarist Geordie Greep's permanently pouting face nestled between a cossack hat and a suave brown trench coat, like he’s about to storm the tsar’s palace. Before they come on stage, the four of them stand in a huddle, plotting their attack.

They find formation within a second, spinning and lurching into a horrid, sleazy groove. It’s a subtle start, they don’t explode straight away, but cast an obsidian spell. My luck continues as the man in front of me decides he can’t handle the mounting, sweaty pressure and I am stood front and centre at the peak of the tempest.

The drummer Morgan Simpson is ferocious and frantic, the bassist Cameron Picton is cold and detached, the guitarist Matt Kelvin is spiky and springy, and the frontman is at the helm of them all. He has a glint, a smile, and an intensity too, the air of a fantastic, terrifying conductor. Black Midi are capable of a terrific noise, a caterwauling sortie of screaming guitars propelled by extraordinary, ceaseless drumming and elegant bass. The singing is weird and unsettling, but tender too.

This is a set that doesn’t pause for breath, yet is organic and fluid and original - they’re relentless and charged but never stiff. Sometimes they sound like a math rock band, sometimes they sound like punks, sometimes they’re post-punk, psychedelic, noise, prog, rock, indie or blues. But they are none of the above, something indefinable and new.