In one of their first UK shows since the release of the critically acclaimed Hellfire, London experimental band Black Midi returned to Liverpool last weekend to headline the Invisible Wind Factory. Fresh from a States tour with contemporaries Black Country, New Road, I headed to Liverpool to check out one of the country’s most exciting bands.
Support came from Tokyo-based experimental hip hop group Dos Monos, a name which may ring familiar to Black Midi’s most die-hard fans due to the groups popular remix of Black Midi’s breakout single bmbmbm in 2019. Despite not sonically sharing a great deal with Black Midi due to the stark difference in genres, their experimental nature and bolshie stage presence made Dos Monos a perfect match to support the headliners.
Next up was Black Midi themselves, introduced via a Michael Buffer-esque announcer as “the reigning, the defending, and the undefeated, undisputed super colossal-weight champion of the world; Black ‘Hellfire’ Midi”, words echoed back by the eagerly awaiting crowd. Black Midi then entered the ring, swiftly kicking into the Cameron Picton led Speedway, played in a manner almost unrecognisable from its original release on their debut album Schlagenheim due to their ability and willingness to reinvent their sound, consistently evolving even their back-catalogue when playing live.
A highlight of Black Midi is immediately made clear in drummer Morgan Simpson, who effortlessly delivers otherworldly grooves and fills with an impeccable tempo-keeping ability. For anyone with even the slightest interest in drumming; Simpson makes the price of admission worth it alone.
One notable omission from the show was frequent collaborator; saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi. Due to the band’s more recent work being more instrumentally diverse than their debut, Akinnibi usually helps to bring tracks from Cavalcade and Hellfire to life within the live medium. While his absence was unfortunate, the Liverpudlian audience took great joy in filling in his place acapella style; especially on saxophone heavy tracks, such as Cavalcade’s Chondromalacia Patella.
Expectedly, songs from their most recent record Hellfire took up most of the evening, however in true Black Midi fashion, the band teased some unreleased material. A standout of which was a track dubbed ‘Magician’; a near 9 minute epic which sees the group build a slow ballad into a huge crescendo, backed by the swelling croons of charismatic frontman Geordie Greep.
Another standout of the night was fan favourite John L, which saw the band flaunt truly virtuoso-level abilities, unwieldily flying through choruses at breakneck speeds, weaving in and out of time, whilst being entirely under control in a manner that only Black Midi are capable of.
Overall, Black Midi continue to prove that they are one of, if not the most exciting band coming out of the UK right now. Mashing contradicting genres from (but not limited to) jazz fusion and post punk, to math, prog, and noise rock. What’s more impressive is that they seemingly do this all at the same time, creating something that is entirely unique, and fully deserving of their namesake. This gig leaves me excited for what is next to come in their discography.
Words and Photos by Jacob Swetmore