Mar 6, 2009

Black Mountain @ Annandale Hotel

This wasn't the greatest show I have ever been to. But I have no doubt that Black Mountain have been touched by the hand of greatness. There is an undefinable air of something special that you feel at a Black Mountain show. It's the music. The dirty fingernails, the voluminous hair, the grit of decaying sounds. The soul, the fury. The buzz. It's fury delivered with an effortless grace and ease. It's the feeling that you are at a ROCK show. The Annandale Hotel was the setting on Thursday night and it was a mighty experience.

The Vancouver five were playing the second night of a two night stand, which meant a less then full venue. This was actually a good thing, as it left space to sway gently to the riffs and drum fills. But I wasn't swaying to the opener. "Tyrants" lifted me to the ceiling with its amplified and supersonic guitar blast. This song packs quite a wallop and was a well chosen opener. "Angels" then gave us a breather and gave us a peek into the other side of the band. Its psychedelic nature. The keyboards of Jeremy Schmidt were a great feature of many songs, as they winded and twisted their way through the gaps in the guitars. The rhythm section of Joshua Wells and Matt Camirand were great as well, superbly tight and giving the band a real backbone. But I guess the spotlight falls mainly on Stephen McBean, and with good reason. The lead vocalist on most of the material, he has a gritty, earthy vessel of a voice and he is quite the phenomenal guitarist. Which was greatly exemplified on "Druganaut", a song that was extended and stretched into a mini epic. "Heart Of Snow" was pulled and stretched as well and although I love this song on record, it didn't quite come off as well as it could have in the live setting. If there was a weakness on the night, it was probably that a few of the songs descended into jams that were a little too long. Meandering a little too much for their own good it seemed to me.

But there wasn't too much to complain about. Although this venue's sound is often patchy, the sound wasn't too bad on this night. Which was a good thing, as songs like "Evil Ways" and "Stormy High" were mean and nasty and very powerful. The other feature of the band is Amber Webber. She of the angelic voice. Her vocals were great, but I thought that they could have been amplified a little more. They sometimes struggled to rise above the guitars. Plus, I think she needs something more to do on stage. Often she was seen standing and staring, seeming to be at a loss as to what she should be doing. But back to the band. After a solid hour and a bit of awesome riffage, they returned for a superb encore. "No Hits" worked splendidly in its extended version. A huge beast of a song, it sounded just superb on stage. Then "Don't Run Our Hearts Around" closed the night with shredding guitars and calamitous noise. A great way to end a great night with Black Mountain, out of Vancouver, with purpose, drive and an air of greatness.

Set List
Queens Will Play
Heart Of Snow
Thirteen Walls
Evil Ways
Stormy High

No Hits
Don't Run Our Hearts Around

Note: Updated Set List Thanks To Sean


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