Black Mountain at The Dome, Tufnell Park, LondonSupport: Mass Datura
November 17, 2016 at The Dome, Tufnell Park, London
Having the majority of your musical equipment stolen on the opening night of a tour must be pretty high up on the list of any band’s nightmare scenarios. This unfortunately became a reality for Black Mountain as they started their second European tour of the year in Gothenburg, Sweden. Relying on the generosity of friends and bands across the length of the tour has thankfully enabled them to continue and make it to the last headline show, before finishing as support act to the legendary Dinosaur Jr. the following night, at the close ranged Forum.
Tonight’s proceeding kicks off with support from London five-piece Mass Datura. Ingeniously exploring the possibilities of incorporating the underused pedal steel, in psych’s universe anyway, alongside keyboards and the more traditional rock attire of guitar, bass, and drums. It is an interesting cocktail mix to produce a promising sound intersecting somewhere between Wilco, early Pink Floyd, and Pavement’s jagged indie rhythms. Having just released their debut vinyl single, ‘Feel me human’, they are a band who are worth noting down to keep a (third) eye on.
Black Mountain open with the solitary figure of Jeremy Schmidt on keyboards deliver a full prog intro treatment to ‘Over and Over’ from this year’s, and the band’s, arguably strongest release to date IV. What burns brightly as they commence to advance through a fine cross section of some of their best tracks across all of their hitherto four albums, is the enormous amount of subtlety to their songs. Never afraid to rush, they display impeccable timing to either introduce sweeping lush keys, monumental building crescendos or gargantuan sized riffs.
Even playing with borrowed instruments that may not be familiar to them they are still incredibly tight. Their mix of, and excursions into, classic 1970’s influences of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, is so richly put together that it forges a sublime fusion of intelligent and timeless rock classicism.
The running order is expertly considered as it criss-crosses through the many facets of the Black Mountain experience. The epic ‘Mothers of the Sun’ is exceptional, especially when the colossal riff erupts into action. Whether it’s the driving stoner rock of ‘Don’t Run Our Hearts Around’, the riffy fuelled but psychedelic layered ‘Stormy High’, the all-absorbing repetitive trance inducing textures of ‘Wucan’, or the nuanced artful pop sensibility of ‘Cemetery Breeding’ through to the elegantly glided homage to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon era, and the audience hollered requested, ‘Space to Bakersfield’. It all amounts to an impressive and cohesive canon of work, hitting all the right notes, whichever direction the band pursue.
While Black Mountain have been treated to some ill fortune they are rewarded with the knowledge of who their friends are, treated with respect from a very appreciative audience, who in turn have been witness to a hugely satisfying night of proggy stoner psych rock perfection.