“Live at Bush Hall”: Review


THE BIG RETURN: English band Black Country, New Road releases its latest EP after the departure of front-man Isaac Wood.

Sarah Woods, A&E Editor

A year after their sophomore album and the sudden departure of previous front-man Isaac Wood, indie-rock band Black Country, New Road (BCNR) came back into the limelight by releasing an EP of nine new songs titled ‘Live at Bush Hall’. The concert, originally debuted on Youtube as a concert plus behind-the-scenes content, features three main “sections” of the show with different stage backdrops and members’ costumes in each one. BCNR also switches between three singers, flutist Lewis Evans, bassist Tyler Hyde, and keyboardist May Kershaw, within acts.

While this is the band’s first concert documentary, one watching without previous knowledge of that fact wouldn’t be able to tell. The aesthetics of the video are quintessentially BCNR:, indie, quirky, and chalked full of English accents. The behind-the-scenes footage shown between songs proves that the band is still capable of creating together, even if they are down a member. The film also includes shots of the crowd, which adds to that feeling of community/closeness. Each shot of a fan shouting a phrase of adoration or frantically dancing makes those watching feel like they were experiencing the new music for the first time along with everybody else. 

“Live at Bush Hall” also comes with a new sound. Though there are still the slow melodies crescendoed into thunderous choruses that fans are used to, it’s clear that the band is no longer afraid of creating more up-beat songs. Tragic declarations of love and loss are backed by twinkling, jazzy melodies that compliment each other expertly. Each instrument’s sound tangles itself with another’s, each pluck of Georgia Ellery’s bass or whistle of Lewis Evan’s flute bring the listener one step closer to understanding the story being told onstage. If the returning band has one thing to improve upon, instrumentals are not it.

The biggest concern I had when the new music was first announced was over who would be Isaac Wood’s replacement singer. Wood brought such a specific tone to the previous two albums that would be nearly impossible to replicate. Luckily, BCNR recognizes this. The decision to have three different singers creates three separate “characters” complete with their own storylines. Evans’ young voice follows that of a starry eyed lover, Hyde’s monotone singing elicits images of a regretful ex, and Kershaw’s soft ballads creates a more desperate version of the two combined. 

“Live at Bush Hall” serves as a testament to Black Country, New Road’s ability to adapt in times of uncertainty among fans. If members are able to create an entirely new set of well-done songs within just a few months, I can only imagine what the band will put out under less stressful circumstances.