PHOTOS: black midi @ Saturn

On Monday night, the revered London experimental rock trio black midi returned to Birmingham for a sold-out show at Saturn, marking a massive summer for the group following the release of this year’s Hellfire. There’s not much that can be said about black midi that hasn’t already been said; their effortless blending of genre is already mesmerizing on record, but watching it live is an outright intense experience that feels like an all-out assault of the senses. The band hardly brings the recognizable tracks of their discography to life — rather, their 80-minute set was a journey with callbacks and references to everything they’ve ever done with hardly any breaks, winking nods to the city of Birmingham (Alabama AND England), and mosh pits upon mosh pits that would open and close based on the band’s whims. It’s an immensely entertaining show, and their Birmingham set felt like they were reaching the peak of their powers: Saturn will be much too small for them soon.

Support came from Black Country, New Road, the orchestral-pop group that released the riveting Ants From Up There earlier this year. Notably, the six-piece didn’t play a single track from either one of their critically-acclaimed albums — after lead singer Isaac Wood’s departure from the band thi syear, the band has bravely pushed forward with a brand new set that features multiple lead vocals and the now-patented sound of BC,NR that’ll show up on end-of-year lists in 2022. It was a spellbinding set, with the audience held in a trance as the band committed to post-rock swells and grandeur. The ovation that they received was the loudest I’d ever heard for a support act in Birmingham.