THE BLACK QUEEN make an un­der­stated re­turn.

BUSH HALL, LON­DON Greg Puciato’s elec­tronic ex­plor­ers bring a spec­ta­cle but lit­tle fire

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - LUKE MOR­TON

Two years ago, less than a month af­ter their de­but al­bum was re­leased, The Black

Queen made their UK de­but at the Oslo venue in Lon­don. Now, less than a fort­night af­ter the re­lease of their fol­low-up, they’re back in the cap­i­tal, al­though this time in a less rock’n’roll set­ting. The high ceil­ing with chan­de­liers and car­peted floor (sticky with spilled whisky) is a world away from the dive bars front­man Greg Puciato used to call home, and that is very much the point. Not just a mu­si­cal de­par­ture from his Dillinger days, this is a vis­i­ble, phys­i­cal de­tach­ment as he com­mits fully to this new chap­ter in his life, at­tract­ing a mix of met­al­heads, goths and hip­sters to west Lon­don. The spark of that first show, how­ever, is miss­ing tonight.

Sure, the ma­te­rial on de­but LP Fever Day­dream is su­pe­rior to new al­bum In­fi­nite Games, but the per­for­mance as a whole is sub­dued. No­body is ex­pect­ing Greg to climb the walls and swing off the light fix­tures, but in that ini­tial 2016 show he was ooz­ing en­ergy and was pos­i­tively rav­en­ous, dart­ing around stage and smack­ing speak­ers to the beat. Tonight he re­mains res­o­lutely be­hind the mic stand, oc­ca­sion­ally danc­ing his way to

The vi­su­als are an ex­er­cise in

am­bi­ence

the rear of the stage, flanked by a gui­tarist and key­boardist. His abil­ity as a vo­cal­ist isn’t in ques­tion, cre­at­ing an in­ter­est­ing di­chotomy of a man who is so hench yet sounds so sen­si­tive, but the lack of vigour leads to a dis­con­nect be­tween artist and au­di­ence.

Visu­ally, it’s stun­ning. A giant screen looms over the stage, play­ing var­i­ous trippy clips, from liq­uid to con­torted faces, as the trio on­stage play in a thick fog of dry ice, bol­stered by the starkly mono­chrome light­ing ef­fects. It’s an ex­er­cise in am­bi­ence, an idea ex­plored in de­tail on the lat­est al­bum, but it’s those bom­bas­tic, new wave sin­gles from Fever Day­dream that still hit hard­est. The Nine Inch Nails wor­ship of Se­cret Scream kick­starts a room-wide clap-along, but it’s the tidal, warm­ing The End Where We Start that boasts the abil­ity to con­sume hearts whole. For some it’s too lit­tle, too late. As the show reaches its colour­ful cli­max, the rear of Bush Hall is no­tice­ably emp­tier than when the show started. It’s im­pres­sive to watch, but for a band ca­pa­ble of adding mul­ti­ple di­men­sions to their sound, it’s at times a very 2D af­fair.

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