With Birmingham’s current musical state resembling a three-headed beast of noise, scope and industry, there’s no better holiday location in Britain for the post-punk stalwarts of North America than the Midlands. Tonight, coughed up on stage straight from Atlanta Georgia’s deepest lungs are The Black Lips. The spry guitars, intoxicating energy, and feckless pulse of ‘Justice After All’ introduces us to the Southerners. This affirmation demands a mood.
Stricken with a childlike anxiety, the quartet throbs from side-to-side, making eye contact across the lines of the dimly lit room. It’s easy to forget this is a band that have been around for over a decade and are touring their seventh studio record, ‘Underneath The Rainbow’. We are treated to almost that entire collection throughout the evening.
“BAD KIDS!” Comes from the audience.
“We already played that.” Reaching out to the locals, guitarist Jack Hines states “The Birmingham we’re used to is in Alabama” before struggling with their heckles in the same manner that the rest of Britain does, “What? Brummie? I can’t understand your accent!” That same repartee may have tickled the insecurities of some Midlanders eighteen months back but on this, one of those nights you can feel the spores of Birmingham’s juvenile warehouse culture blossoming into something grander, it serves as nothing but a smiling introduction to ‘Boys in the Wood’.
As the waves of eager leather jackets break, the crowd settles. The waltz-like slump serves as a wonderful aperitif in a chaotic evening. Its complete emotional imbalance and slurred articulation serenades arm-in-arm sways with a bittersweet uniqueness – it’s the kind of sound that you expect to hear more on the Black Lips’ coming records.
“Do you really wanna hold my dirty hand?” The band ask in their iconic number, ‘Dirty Hands’, a request which – as photos later prove on social media – the locals clearly oblige, clasping The Black Lips’ dirty hand and dragging the group to an even dirtier gay bar after the show, into the early hours of Sunday night. If they didn’t know what a “Brummie” was, they certainly do now.