Photo by Hasan Jensen
A misty dark Halloween night, possibly the optimal setting to see a show by the much adored Canadian psych/metal band, Black Mountain.
Arriving at the venue at a leisurely 20 minutes before the presumed curtain would go up, many of the guests at VoxHall were treated to the band still sound-checking and approving final mixes before the main part of VoxHall was open. Immediately thought I had forgotten to set my clock back or something, but it turns out they were just running a little late, and still tweaking a little of the borrowed gear from local bands after the unfortunate theft a few days ago of their keyboards and guitars from their tour van.
Further investigation into the incident reveals that it seems they were actually targeted in Stockholm by thieves who specialize in burgling bands on tour. It’s just gut wrenching to know there are such terrible people out there that steal from hard working musicians. As a musician myself, who has had gear stolen, it’s a seriously emotional ordeal. Black Mountain, the troopers that they are, continued on with their tour as planned, gathering pieces of the missing gear from local musicians after a call to arms on social media from the band and their tour manager. Luckily, we have some nice people here with the will to help – and they gave a shout out to members of Tales Of Murder and Dust and (I think) Narcosatanicos. Enough about that for now.
The crowd was of a decent size surprisingly for a Monday night, there was much scuttlebutt about being up late on a school or work night and folks being tired from dealing with their kids – but that you just can’t miss a Black Mountain show. It’s been many years (6 or 7?) since they last stopped by. How did we get so old anyway?
The audience were called to stage by a pulsing track of ambient krautrock. The band appeared but then spent several minutes tuning or standing there. Someone sarcastically yelled out “Hello?” from the crowd during the awkward pause before the 1st number – but when the opening notes of “Mothers Of The Sun” came pulsing out – the crowd were silenced. As promised from promos, it was fucking loud – the deep bass frequencies coming from the bank of synths were bone rattling. Singer, Amber Webber brandished her tambourine until cranking up her ethereal voice. This was Black Mountain.
They weaved seamlessly between the first few numbers, all long pieces before the crowd was even treated to a “hey Aarhus” or were able to clap. This kind of set the tone for the show. It became very evident that this was not a band that was going to engage the audience by any other means of communication than just playing their music. Fine by me, but throughout their hour-plus set, I found my attention often drifting to places other than the stage. It was only when the band dug a little deeper into their catalog, that they seemed to open up – as did the audience. Not that their newer material is any better or worse than the older stuff, just there was a feeling of “classic Black Mountain” when they dove into tunes from the previous records.
I cannot fault the band for any moment of their performance. There are a multitude of reasons why they might have felt a little disconnected – it’s only the 2nd or 3rd date on their European tour, they might still be a little jet-lagged, they don’t have many parts of their normal gear (Steve McBean was playing a Stratocaster, which I’m not sure is normal or appropriate) and it could have been the last-minute rush to sound-check. No matter – the crowd bobbed along and were treated to a well-rounded and solid show from a hard-working and courageous band. Apparently, they’ve done over 100 shows this year so far, with all of Europe left to conquer. That’s stamina for ya.
Thanks as always to Voxhall for a great night out – and a shout out to the young lady fan who let us have a look at the set list she grabbed from the stage after the gig.
Black Mountain managed to continue their tour and stop by Aarhus, despite experiencing being robbed in Sweden. It might have had a negative effect, playing on borrowed gear and all that, but the Canadian troops did play a more than honorable show. (4/6)