Black Country, New Road pack the Granada and prove they’re invincible

With support from Daneshevskaya.
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Black Country, New Road. // photo by Nick Spacek

Right off the bat, let me just point out how big Black Country, New Road really is.

A mere 30K Facebook followers and lined up to play the Bottleneck in Lawrence, only to sell so many advanced tickets that they had to move it to the Granada. Upon arrival just as doors opened, the line to get in stretched all the way to the next block, a feat I have only seen there a few times. And once inside, the place was plain packed like never before.

The last time I went to the Granada was for mewithoutYou on their final tour (RIP), and to compare it, this energy was more electric.

The demographic may have played a large part, with a very young audience. In part because, well, it’s a college town, but also because of the wide appeal the band has created. It had never really occurred to me until last night that this is a group that may get some kids out there stretching their horizons and finding their inner voice inside the music.

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Daneshevskaya. // photo by Nick Spacek

The massive, and possibly unanticipated, response by fans led to a 10-minute delay in the late 8 p.m. start time. But the brief, and ultimately worthwhile, opener Daneshevskaya set the tone for the night, a dizzying and magnetic female-led indie group from New York. Vocalist Anna Beckerman, who named the group after her great-grandmother, is the main appeal, with an unforced touch that made the set feel effortless. The sips of coffee in between songs definitely helped, though. The group is set to release their first album, Long is the Tunnel, on November 10.

Around 9:15 p.m., bodies after bodies were mystified by 60 minutes worth of non-studio tunes.

To set the stage, Black Country, New Road have released two LPs (For the First Time, Ants From Up There), the latter being the final record for previous vocalist Isaac Wood. Wood left the group four days prior to the release of Ants in January 2022, reportedly for mental health issues, which ended up canceling a planned U.S. tour. The band regrouped, determined not to play any Wood-led vocal songs live, which left them with one option: create new material.

In February, they released a 52-minute live video of wholly unique and unreleased songs, with three different members sharing lead vocal duties. Live at Bush Hall, BCNR’s ‘third’ release, came out the next month.

The record has nine songs, and the band played eight of them last night (sorry, “The Wrong Trousers”), interspersing a couple unreleased tracks in the middle. The brief 10-song setlist may have left this youthful audience wanting more, but the brevity of the situation, plus the length of the songs themselves, were plenty satisfying.

The record itself has gotten a bit of a mixed reception, with some claiming that they have leaned more into “glum theater kids with imposter syndrome” given the lighter approach to the songwriting and vocal duties. Having not viewed the hour-long video coupled with the album, the experience of seeing the band play the tracks in-person did bring the songs into an exciting new light.

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Black Country, New Road. // photo by Nick Spacek

Let’s focus on the two new ones. The band did not clarify titles, but one of them was definitely “Nancy Tries to Take the Night”, coming in after “Laughing Song” in the second half of the set. Lead vocals come from bassist Tyler Hyde, who takes the reins for five of the nine songs on Bush Hall. Sound-wise, it fits in nicely with what they already have going on. I’m curious whether both of these are being prepared for LP3, or whether the band just decided to ditch “The Wrong Trousers” and desperately sought out some new material to stretch out their live set.

“24/7 365 British Summer Time” was likely the other, which is led by saxophonist Lewis Evans, and came three songs in. Both have more in common with more grounded new tunes, such as “I Won’t Always Love You” and “Across the Pond Friend”, than the more expansive and epic ones (“Turbines/Pigs”). “Geese” and “Horses” have also made appearances during their 2023 concert sprawl.

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Black Country, New Road. // photo by Nick Spacek

Some brief technical difficulties took place two songs in, with “The Boy”, as pianist (and lovely lead vocalist!) May Kershaw continuously created some scratchy static in the mic, with the tech crew coming out in the middle to help. The situation created some laughs, but when “Turbines/Pigs” came around near the end, there were thankfully no issues…and Kershaw certainly redeemed herself.

The nearly 10-minute long marathon (reminiscent of “Basketball Shoes” and “Sunglasses”) features Kershaw on piano and vocals for the first 4-5 minutes, with Evans slowly coming in, followed by drummer Charlie Wayne and the rest of the group. But the band all sat on the right side of the stage, staring at Kershaw as she took over the far left side of the stage with forceful beauty, coupling long and complicated stanzas with the harsh and complicated lyrics “Don’t waste your pearls on me, I’m only a pig”.

Wayne completely took the track over in the back-half, leading to the biggest applause of the night. The band knows it’s their most effective live rendition – here’s to hoping it gets the much deserved studio one.

What’s in store for the future of Black Country, New Road, post Wood-departure? It’s hard to say, but the band feels like it’s in their invincible stage, where they don’t have to follow the conventional rules. No lead vocalist, no live songs from LPs, no announcement of what’s next. It’s really cool to see, and very exciting to be experiencing.

All photos by Nick Spacek

Black Country, New Road

Black Country, New Road setlist

Up Song

The Boy

24/7 365 British Summer Time

I Won’t Always Love You

Across the Pond Friend

Laughing Song

Nancy Tries to Take the Night



Up Song (Reprise)


Categories: Music