Feb 20, 2023
By Mark Redfern
Photography by Holly Whitaker
England’s Black Country, New Road have released a new concert film, Live at Bush Hall, that features all new songs not previously released by the band. When Black Country, New Road’s former frontman, Isaac Wood, announced that he was leaving the band last year only days before the February release of their sophomore album, Ants From Up There (on Ninja Tune), the band vowed to continue on and to not perform any of the material from Ants From Up There without Wood and so they wrote all new songs to perform live. Watch Live at Bush Hall below.
The band now consists of Lewis Evans, May Kershaw, Georgia Ellery, Luke Mark, Tyler Hyde and Charlie Wayne, with Kershaw, Evans, and Hyde sharing vocal duties.
“We didn’t want to do a studio album,” says pianist/vocalist Kershaw in a press release. “We wrote the new tracks specifically to perform live, so we thought it might be a nice idea to put out a performance.”
“It’s about capturing the moment,” adds saxophonist/vocalist Evans. “A little time capsule of these eight months that we’ve had playing these songs on the road.”
Greg Barnes directed Live at Bush Hall, which was mixed by John Parish. The footage was filmed over three nights at London’s Bush Hall and the film features eight songs.
“We had concerns from live sessions we’ve seen or done in the past,” says guitarist Mark. “They are very obviously clumped together visually from multiple performances. That can take you out of the performance and make it seem artificial and like it’s not actually live. So we came up with the idea to make the three nights look visually distinct from one another. To scratch the idea of trying to disguise anything. We wanted it to be very honest and let people know that we had three goes at it. This isn’t just us playing the whole thing non-stop.”
The press release explains that each of the three shows had “its own distinct theme and aesthetic inspired by amateur dramatic performances, based around school plays, a pastoral scene and a haunted pizza parlor called, yes, I Ain’t Alfredo No Ghosts. There’s even an end of school prom party.”
Evans further explains: “We came up with fake plays. And wrote a fake synopsis, dressed as the characters, and made programmes and sets for each play. It was really exciting and made it a lot more fun.”
Fans and friends were also enlisted to help with the film, which features some footage shot by fans, as well as some helping to build or paint sets. “We thought: if we’re gonna do a film, then make it personable,” says Mark. “And a lot of our fans, especially when we were putting this stuff together, played a huge part in spreading the songs which meant that people could listen to them without us putting them out in the first place. It felt good to do the film in a way that involved the people who’ve been vital to keeping the whole thing afloat.”
Ants From Up There was acclaimed and made it on our Top 100 Albums of 2022 list. Read our rave review of the album here.
Read our interview with Black Country, New Road on Ants From Up There and Wood’s departure here.