It speaks volumes that Black Moth’s growing list of support slots incorporates such a vast body of diverse bands (L7, Amplifier, The Sword, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and in November they open up for Pentagram) because quite simply they defy conforming to any particular genre and this makes them such an intriguing band. So my initial raised eyebrows upon hearing they were supporting Sisters of Mercy may not be quite that odd a pairing after all.
With the departure of guitarist Nico Carew to concentrate solely on X-Ray Cat Trio and the arrival of Federica Gialanze, it’s an ideal time to bag a British and European tour support slot. As they roll into London to play the Roundhouse, which is probably their biggest indoor venue to date, there are quite a few potential hiccups a support band might encounter; will anyone make the sacrifice to depart the pub earlier, how big is the percentage of punters who have no idea who you are and will they give you a fair listen, and will the sound be any better than a distorted racket? Well, on all accounts there are positives as there is a satisfactory turnout, which expands during the course of their set, the sound is pretty amazing for a support band and the crowd response is respectful and promising.
The lights dim as they emerge and so begins the power chords and riff of an extremely slow and drawn out opening of ‘Undead King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Harriet Bevan enters the stage with a beaming smile before launching into the main body of the song. By the end it is a thunderous beast of a version, with a tempo you were not expecting, after the mighty patient doom style beginning. Then it is straight into the seductive hook and groove of ‘Tumbleweave’.
While the individual band member’s start pretty much rooted in their own territories by the end there is a growing confidence and desire to make the most of the extra space to move around in. During the atmospheric ‘Trees of Woe’ guitarist Jim Swainston and the confidently mobile bassist Dave Vachon converge in spontaneously synchronised high kicks. Then follows two back-to-back up-tempo storming punky grunge rockers – ‘White lies’ and ‘Looner’. With only a thirty minute slot the band are hitting their stride when Harriet announces the last number ‘Honey Lung’ is upon us. On this evidence the line-up change has been a smooth transition and Federico’s denim and tattoos fashion style has given Black Moth a slightly more aggressive, metal look.
As for taking the occasion in their stride Harriet’s natural charm and wit is there for all to see and hear – on discovering a few people down at the front row are going to all the European dates, she replies ‘we’re going to pretend you’re our fans’. An immediate response from a guy next to me informs the band they have their own fans in attendance. So who needs imaginary fans? I’m sure Black Moth have picked up a few new real fans on this tour.
Live image by Matt T.A. Smith at echoesanddust.com