Black Mountain – Stereo, Glasgow – 14/11/16

black-mountain-live-stereo-glasgow-iain-mitchell-musicscrambleBlack Mountain had barely kicked off the European leg of their current tour when they were dealt a major blow. While visiting Gothenburg Sweden, the Vancouver rockers had their gear stolen which cast major doubts on whether they could continue. Thanks to some borrowed gear the show has went on with Black Mountain landing in Glasgow’s Stereo on the 14th of November.

With cracked plaster and peeling paint, Stereo is a glorious throwback to a shadier time of rock and roll when the edges were rougher. With many obstructions between the bar and the stage, the venue’s foundations would be tested by the Canadian quintet.

Arriving on stage through a haze of smoke, Black Mountain opened up with ‘Mothers of the Sun’ from latest album IV. Clad in black, lead vocalist Amber Webber delivered her haunting harmonies though the thick vapour before Stephen McBean’s guitar thundered through the air and shattered the ambience. It was a call to arms that caught the attention of the loyal fanbase.

Next up was the outstanding ‘Florian Saucer Attack’ which combines stoner grooves with a punk ferocity that loosened up the crowd. Despite an impressive if modest back catalogue, older songs such as ‘Stormy High’ and ‘Tyrants’ didn’t translate well live and felt flat in comparison to the new material.

‘Rollercoaster’ from 2010’s Wilderness Heart saw the band reclaim their swagger as the granite infused riffs bellowed with a calculated and methodical pulse that transported the audience to a purer era of rock.

A surprise closer to the set was the keyboard-driven gentle and chilled out ‘Wucan’ with its psychedelic melody and toe tapping tempo. Or it would have been if the band were finished – the encore saw an ode to Pink Floyd with drawn out ethereal guitar solos that softly swayed through the smoke.

Determined to leave on a high, ‘Don’t Run Our Hearts Around’ from their debut album blasted from the stage and bounced off the walls ensuring no one was left standing still. A band of few words at best, Black Mountain thanked the crowd before exiting the stage for the final time. At times the set list dragged however there’s no denying the musical prowess of Black Mountain and their refusal to be pigeon holed. Despite sounding like they belong in a different era, they sound remarkably fresh with a wonderful production that’s as grimy as it is polished.

A space prog opera, Black Mountain’s set worked best when the rockers let themselves loose. The UFO landed and took most people on a trip, even if it didn’t reach the astro heights of their studio work.

Thomas Simpson

Senior Editor at Moviescramble. Writer, filmmaker, Sir Peter Ustinov Television Screenwriting Award finalist, friendly neighbourhood storyteller. The best film ever made is Jaws, sorry if you thought differently.

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