black midi bring their bizarre blend of rock, jazz and reggae to the Liquid Rooms

Fair warning, if you don’t like tight spaces, don’t go to a black midi concert. On a typically sodden Edinburgh night, the masses that came out to see them pile into The Liquid Rooms. The show is sold out, and the venue gives little room to manouvre. Fresh off their well-received debut album Schlagenheim, black midi have built a devoted cult of fans on their fluid mix of chaotic rock and jazz influences, and under the burning red lights they delivered just that.

The stage was well-illuminated, and it gave the audience the perfect view of all the members from the London four-piece band. Throughout the night, lead singer and guitarist Geordie Greep played with crazed precision, and sung with even more intensity. Drummer Morgan Simpson provided the necessary, tight rhythms for which the rest of the band followed, effortlessly transitioning through half-times, beat changes, and manic drum fills. They began by playing new material, teasing the audience before starting on their more well-known work. By the time droning guitars came on in ‘Speedway’, the crowd had transformed from a sparse collection of semi-swaying individuals, to a homogenous, anarchic mass of bodies. Moving through their setlist, their inventive fusion of rock, jazz, and elements of reggae commanded everyone’s full attention. Seeing firsthand the incorporation of saxophone was mesmerising. It provided well-needed melodic interludes, but would quickly transition to aggressive, but not at all ineffective, noise.

With each song, the crowd gets more and more rowdy, and when the opening guitar lick of crown favourite ‘Western’ began, the venue erupted in approval. At this point, all of the band had visible sweat dripping down their face, yet still executed with hysterical perfection. The eclectic drums provided the backbone for glitzy guitar lines, with the saxophone and keyboard providing polychromatic harmonies. Greep egged on the rest of the band to go even harder at the climax, before the song came to its strangely peaceful end. In a night where noise was the norm, the rare instances of calmness were that much more enjoyable.

The band close with an unreleased song, a gorgeous ballad-like track, with Greep taking a seat and singing with more sincerity, but not without their trademark unruly collisions of sound and style. The crowd comes to a standstill, enthralled, before the lights begin to dim, and waves upon waves of applause begin. The band take their well-earned bows before exiting, even with the audience screaming for “one more tune”. With the venue lights on, Greep and co. do return to the stage, but only to dance a playful jig to an old folk tune, perfectly encapsulating the dynamic of the group: black midi don’t take themselves very seriously, but they sure do provide a chaotic, crazy, and memorable night of perfection.

Image: Finlay Scott