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P1240406Venn Street Social, Huddersfield, UK
23rd April 2022
Black Doldrums

One of the most endearing things about BLACK DOLDRUMS is they really have no idea just how good they are. Close your eyes, at any point during the set tonight, and this tiny venue with a mere scattering of people, can suddenly be somewhere vast, and the whole experience something epic.

You could be in New York in the late sixties watching THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, a packed and smoke-filled Barrowlands in the eighties watching THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, or just about any festival ever that allows a scuzzy, fuzzy, gothic-blues psychedelic post-punk noise rock ensemble to do their thing. There’s a phenomenal energy running through this band, and as fast as an influence appears, it is rapidly chased by their original take on each and every one of them.

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Music & Performance
Singer and guitarist Kevin Gibbard occasionally has the Ian Curtis look about him, staring off into somewhere we can’t follow, like he’s already spotted the next amazing song up on the ceiling, just out of reach. Hitting things extremely hard, drummer Sophie Landers continues the JOY DIVISION / early NEW ORDER theme, tapping into that weird mechanical groove so beloved of Stephen Morris, a mesmerising, hypnotic effect that’s suddenly shattered by an unexpected explosion of outside energy, breaking the spell and then lulling you back into your reverie. And bassist Matt Holt has the look of a man carrying the world’s heaviest guitar, so low does he play, powering the set relentlessly forwards, again, a hypnotic quality to his playing that glues the more psychedelic elements together by grounding everything perfectly.

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The band open with the driving drone of ‘Dreamcatcher’, and there’s everything from RIDE to BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB bubbling and boiling away in this - it’s a stunning opener. ‘Sad Paradise’ ramps up the distortion but can’t mask its melody, something MY BLOODY VALENTINE were once masters of, and the slower ‘There Is No Eye’ goes wandering off somewhere magical and mystical and takes about a million years to finish. But you won’t care. The guitar-work on ‘Mae’s Desire’ spirals off like a thing possessed, dark and beautiful all at once. And to really mess with your head, there’s the ten-minute wig-out of ‘It’s A Dandy Massacre’ to close the gig - this wall of wail climbs forcefully inside you, starts spinning you around with a heady whoosh, and doesn’t let up. And you don’t want it to, actually. They could be still playing this now, four hours later, and you’d be grinning like a fool and wobbling your head about like it’s ready to fall off.

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The old mantra “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” is, of course, absolute bollocks. They do. And they make them better. BLACK DOLDRUMS clearly sprout from a long line of hugely influential pioneers, genre-makers and risk takers, and yet, in this tiny venue tonight with a mere scattering of people, they’ve fashioned a unique and thrilling sound that’s absolutely theirs. They’re not just good. They’re in a world, and a class, all of their own. Someone should tell them. They deserve to know.

Setlist
01. Dreamcatcher
02. Sidewinder
03. Sad Paradise
04. Sleepless Nights
05. There Is No Eye
06. Those With A Rope Around Their Neck (Don’t Always Hang)
07. Now You Know This
08. Mae’s Desire
09. Runaway
10. It’s A Dandy Massacre

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Lights: Minimal
Sound: 8
Total: 9 / 10

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All pictures by Stephen Kennedy

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