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Black Water County – The Key Club, Leeds 16.11.2023

I was lucky enough to get to go to The Key Club in Leeds last Thursday night to firstly interview Black Water County (which will be published soon) and then watch them play live.

I was really happy to meet the band as their recent singles and new album are excellent (what do you mean you don’t know them, rectify that now, you won’t regret it!). It was also the first time I’d been at The Key Club for a while, I think the last act I saw play there was Stand Atlantic, its an excellent little venue in Leeds which fully deserves all the support you can give it and is home to some great gigs while being quite central.

The support act were True Strays, a band I’d never heard of before and had no knowledge of so I had the enjoyable experience of coming to them with no preconceived ideas of what to expect. To say I was impressed is an understatement, very much rooted in the Americana/Country/Blues genre they were a revelation. Two men, one guitar and a double bass can create some amazingly good live music. They created a vibe and got the crowd well in to their music, never an easy thing to do for a support act. They also hung around after and signed some albums, chatted to people and eventually stayed to enjoy watching the main act coming across as genuinely nice guys as well as being talented. My understanding is they are touring again soon so go seem them, they are excellent.

There was a brief gap before Black Water County took to the stage to a rapturous reception. As a band they come across on stage as warm, engaging and funny. Of course it would help if a certain member of the band has actually read the set list and didn’t keep trying to introduce the wrong song, which resulted in multiple corrections from the rest of them and became a running joke for a while (I couldn’t possibly say who but if you know the band, he used to be a teacher….).

Describing the music of Black Water County is not an easy thing to do, which is one of the joys of seeing them live as no two songs are the same. I will have a go, they are a folk/punk/Irish/rock/pop group who write amazing songs, have two lead singers and huge amounts of personality while being extremely talented at playing music and having two perfectly symmetrical cymbals in the drum set (read the forthcoming interview to understand that comment).

They are just a wonderful band to see live, there is so much energy on the stage, so much joy of life and so much talent. If this new album doesn’t propel them into the big leagues there really is no justice in this world.

The music went everywhere from slow, quiet and at times introspective to feeling the need to pogo along to wanting to dance to joining in at the band’s insistence with the singing. It was one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve been to in while and by far the best of the three gigs I saw last week.

Black Water County will continue to tour their new album over the course of 2024 I’ve no doubt, do yourself a favour and go see them. It will be a life reaffirming event for you and you’ll want be part of the Black Water County family going forwards, make sure you also buy the music in some format, bands like this need our support to thrive and grow.

Review - Iain McClay


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