Live Review: Black Doldrums – The Victoria, London 10.03.2022

Don Blandford

Shoegazing? Nope. I can assure you, nobody is looking at the floor tonight. Everyone is transfixed by the concentrated stare of Black Doldrums drummer Sophie Landers. The self-proclaimed goth and “noise conjurer” is a mesmerising sight. Pounding the sticks throughout the Dalston night with bandmate Kevin Gibbard on guitar and main vocal duties and band newcomer Matt Holt on bass.

This album launch bash for their latest release Dead Awake on the Fuzz Club label is a relentless, sonic assault of psyche rock.

Kevin is a man of few words. Not that he’s one of those arrogant performers – just like the audience – he is simply fully immersed in the music. He does pause to ask for the main stage lights to be switched off and this further thickens the atmosphere already heavy with the primal drumming from Sophie.

Later, in another rare break from the uncompromising attack Kevin takes time out to introduce a song – but there’s a sweet twist – as he announces “this is called Happy Birthday Sally!” – a song retitled to celebrate a fan’s birthday. A heart of goth…and gold!

Black Doldrums bring both phenomenal sound and vision. Throughout the set projected fractals swirl and merge with the band across the stage. There are occasions too, when Black Doldrums hint at the Floodlands era sound of Sisters Of Mercy. Yet there are also moments – like on the outstanding Sleepless Nights and Dreamcatcher – when the space rocking urgency of Stereolab at their finest is perhaps the best reference point. Either way, I’m glad it’s the psyche-rock correspondent’s night off and instead I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the Black Doldrums engaging wall of sound. The Victoria isn’t so much the cliched ‘sonic cathedral’ more the chapel of psyche and…oh, those drums!

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