Black Country, New Road played Royale – 4/23

U.K. art-rock collective BC, NR returned to Boston for a sold-out Royale stop supported by Camera Picture.


A few years on from their reinvention in the wake of former lead singer Isaac Wood’s departure, Black Country’s second phase no longer feels jarring – though it does remain something remarkable. The band surely appear a bit more comfortable in their six-piece configuration than they did at their first stateside shows back in 2022, and they have a good deal more room to stretch out at the sizable clubs and theaters they’re now filling up. This Spring’s U.S. run, which kicked off around a pair of Coachella dates last month, is their biggest to date and sees the group embracing the idiosyncrasies of their strange path to indie stardom.

On a stage the size of Royale’s (and presumably even more so in a setting as incongruous to their sound as Coachella), Black Country looked less like a traditional band than ever. They set up in a crescent, Godspeed You! Black Emperor-style, emphasizing the communal spirit of the endeavor as members traded lead vocals across the set. Whatever tentativeness may have initially swirled around the margins of their post-Wood iteration had evaporated, replaced by a sense of confidence in new material that stretches the chamber-pop elements of last studio effort Ants From Up There into thoughtful, stately new directions.

Pulling from the set of new songs that made up last year’s Live at Bush Hall and a set of even newer, yet unreleased pieces, the show highlighted songs already beloved (the masterful “Turbines/Pigs,” ascending from a spare ballad sung by keyboardist May Kershaw to a stirring post-rock crescendo) and pointed the way forward for a group clearly not phased by all the reinvention and growth they’ve had to do in the spotlight. Their fanbase has always been devout, and continues to show out in droves for each successively larger room they play. Royale was handily sold-out, and the crowd reverent from start to finish.

Word of a new record – and which of the band’s Phase II material it might incorporate – remains elusive, but last Tuesday’s show certainly indicated that the creative burst that propelled them back to the stage after Wood’s departure was no fluke. Black Country are here to stay.

Check out a gallery from the show below, including a charming solo acoustic set from Camera Picture – the singer/songwriter alias of Black Midi’s Cameron Picton.