There are times when you go to a gig to see a band/performer for the first time and walk away completely mind-blown at the enormity of what you have just witnessed. The Black Sea Carnys performance on Friday night was, for me, one of those moments.
Our paths had not crossed up until Friday night, often because I was either interstate shooting festivals, or clashing with other gigs I had pre-booked. However, this gig was one I had pencilled in. My interest had been piqued by some short sound bytes of the band that I had seen, and thought it imperative to get along and see them.
The band took to the stage, and from the get-go, the music was epic.
Their music was underpinned by a monolithic, and metronomic rhythm as laid down by Alex Thomsen (bass) and Ivan ‘Moose’ Johnston (drums). Harry Wass (guitar) overlaid this with his dual amplifier set-up and large array of effects pedals to create a ‘wall of sound’ from the lone guitar (a classic Gretsch) not too dissimilar to how bands like The Cure sound on many of their darker, album tracks. To top this all off, Tim Davies provided great colour with his ethereal vocal stylings.
The music is big, and it is at times dark, but is punctuated with a clarity which maintains a sense of light amongst the gloom. Blending classic rock with blues-rock, psychedelic rock, industrial and progressive rock, this performance was a wonderfully visceral experience, filling one’s senses to near overload.
There were snippets of the majestic delivery of classic vocalists such as Jim Morrison (The Doors) and Jeff Martin (The Tea Party) in Davies’ vocals, with the underlying music taking elements of Killing Joke, The Tea Party and even the likes of Bauhaus to create a pervasive cinematic ‘film-noir’ grandeur, a facet which was further enhanced by a video backdrop with dark and somewhat mystical imagery that played on a large screen alongside the band (and one would assume behind the band in other venues where this may be an option).
Black Sea Carnys are not derivative, however. Their music is highly original and authentic, and on this night, the band played two new songs that they have been developing in recent times (set-list pictured above).
To say that I was mesmerized by Black Sea Carnys would be a gross understatement. If this performance is anything to go by, I most certainly look forward to seeing the road that this band travel from here, as this is seriously, rock and roll on a grand scale.
All band images: ©fullonrockphotography/Andrew Fuller