The Blackheart Orchestra – Wigan Old Courts
Date: 18th September 2019
No support, two sets, no complaints. The duo that sounds like a lot more; like an orchestra in fact.
And after having had to postpone the previous night’s Manchester gig – the actions of an overzealous fan’s attempts to show his appreciation of Rick Pilkington resulting in what could have turned out to be quite a serious injury – the pair were back in action at what must class as an as close to hometown gig as there is. Chrissy Mostyn comes from about half a mile away and even Rick’s hometown of Bolton is only a decent spit away. No pressure then, just the concern from Chrissy that “some of you might know me!”
With Rick thankfully much fitter (although, erm, “a little more rigid than usual”) and the prospect of a new album (of which we’ve had a healthy snifter) primed for release plus new T-shirts on the merch stand, much excitement was in the air. To be fair, if you have seen the band over the last year, as is their wont, they do like ot throw in some new material at the earliest opportunity and have already been testing out some of the material. For anyone who’s witnessed the new songs live, they are in for a treat when Mesmeranto finally drops in a matter of weeks. We know, we’ve been lucky enough to have been devouring an advance copy.
Having said that, they have enough of a library of work now that they can set the scene with an opening flurry of familiar material before they get into the meat of the Mesmeranto songs and then top off with some old friends from when the days when they were just Blackheart like Hey Pluto and the ‘miserable song/happy song’ encore pairing of Invisible and Everything You Are.
Rock fans are notoriously picky when it comes to pitching in with new songs when there’s an established back catalogue that they want to hear. For once though, it’s the new songs that we (or maybe it was just me?) are itching to hear and that sit in the set like the icing on a sumptuous cake. One where Ennikur, in particular, is a breathtaking opening album track. A song that should have them rebranded as the Heartbreak Orchestra, it was placed mid-first set with just a piano accompaniment sits in elegant simplicity. Wolves is Chrissy’s favourite form the new album and alongside a list that contains Another Lifetime, All Of Me and Never Do, Do I, they give a perfect reason for tonight’s attendees to scurry home and place their pre-orders, as per Rick’s advice to get delivery asap, on the Cherry Red Records website. That’s even without tracks such as I Am, Try and Back To Earth from the upcoming album that didn’t get an airing.
With You And I taken at a cracking pace, the contrast of heavy tribal rhythms and percussion to more delicate notes picked from acoustic guitars or the paisley pink telecaster put the Blackheart stamp across the two sets. A final dissonant furore from thrashing the guitar with violin bow was the only concession to the striking subtlety of what Rick and Chrissy do in live performance, but just wait till you hear the album.
The Blackheart Orchestra online:
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find moreof Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.