Stephen McBean leads his Black Mountain cohorts onto the stage, looking shaggier and more stereotypically psychedelic than usual. The stage members take their now defined positions – McBean to the right, almost from view; co-leader Amanda Webber out front, armed only with her tambourine and her disarminginly soaring voice; Matt Camarind hunkers over his bass; Jeremey Schmidt, penned off by his instruments of interstellar destruction; and Josh Wells, dressed more like an Aussie punk band sticksman with his singlet and green and white football socks.
Without any cues, the band takes us on a journey into the heart of the hazy wilderness. New tracks like The Hair Song and Radiant Hearts get early air time, and how – their shifts into ebullient Americana and evocative politico-folk never puncture the atmospherics. Queens Will Play is a woozy serpentine groover, whilst Evil Ways is Black Mountain at their most devilish – incessant tribal drumming (Wells is possessed tonight), sultry guitar lines, sexy and beguiling keyboard bolts before the meat is flayed off the bone in style.
The centrepiece is the rolling gargantuan of a track that is old favourite Druganaut, with its extended running time devoted to creating a maelstrom of tightly wound stoner mania that gave me gravel rash to the jaw. It is to both the band’s and the venue’s credit that such a giant sound can be created, harnessed and contained consistently, although Webber’s normally beguiling vocals are occasionally lost in the mix. The set steamrolls through the crests and valleys of the dark side of the moon (as perfectly highlighted by sinuous beauty Roller Coaster), hardened by coiled precision and an innate ability to take us to the brink of cliché before throwing us into the abyss of the unknown – two factors remiss from most psychedelic rock bands.
When the dust settles after a particularly barnstorming encore (featuring Sabbath-aping Let Spirits Ride), Schmidt continues a droning synth line for some minutes before signing off. The stage darkens once more. Black Mountain had come in the night and stolen our souls.Black Mountain - No Satisfaction