Black Mountain, Lexington, King's Cross, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

There are neither Hells Angels for security, nor ageing bespectacled New York Jewish documentarians squinting in the wings of the Lexington in King's Cross, which isn't to say that Black Mountain don't have retro appeal.

The latest in a long line of Canadian bands sizzling into the vocabulary of critical name-droppers, this five-piece don't sound a world away from Jefferson Airplane, say, twisted with a fair amount of Arcade Fire's feverish crescendos. But then, wait a couple of tracks, and they get all bolshy; the abundance of black and facial hair in the audience suggest a love of steelier sounds, and the Vancouverites don't disappoint with power chords and simple riffs; a cultivated kind of metronome infusing proggy synths which sound like they've been lifted out of a 1970s advert for Doctor Who.

The group apparently evolved from the Black Mountain Army, a collective of British Columbian artists and musicians, though the band stipulated last year that the collective element had been blown out of proportion. "It was kind of just a joke," a spokesperson said, "because everybody thought we were this hippie collective. But it's basically... just our extended family of creative people that we know."

The gig is a packed, intimate affair, though the band don't compromise on feedback whines or snarling guitars. Tracks to get aired tonight include a fair few from the group's latest album, Wilderness Heart, including "Rollercoaster" – delightfully rolling, rollocking lyrics – "Radiant Hearts" (an achingly contemplative turn), "Let Spirits Ride" and "The Hair Song". They don't believe much in chatter; co-lead-singer Amber Webber often staring into the middle distance, even when there are some technical jitters half way through.

Even those who aren't fans of this kind of music (myself included) get something from Black Mountain. That is as telling of the eclecticism of their sound, as it is of the sensitivity underlining what is mostly a raw, metallic front.