Live Review: Black Cab

20 February 2016 | 12:19 pm | Bradley Armstrong

"Everything sounds tinny and lifeless and, as visually beautiful the hall is, it does nothing for the acoustics."

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In tonight's episode of the update at NGV series, Black Cab play the musical accompaniment to the gallery's Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei exhibition. 

The hall is packed and Black Cab punctually kick off at the ironically early time of 8:30. It's hard to get a decent vantage point as to the left and right of stage the place is packed with diners and general rabble not at all interested in the music. This coupled with the painfully long bar lines merging into everything, the only real place to set up camp for the show is behind the band themselves. 

Depending on where you do wind up, standing in the room is merely an indicator as to how bad the sound is. From the start of the set, everything sounds tinny and lifeless and, as visually beautiful the hall is, it does nothing for the acoustics, leaving the mix devoid of the band's satisfying low end while adding unwanted reverb and echo into the mix. Also, some of the instrumentation is completely inaudible (looking at you bass drum!). 

Whinging aside, there is still good happening. The band are their usual on point selves and the set unsurprisingly follows the kraut formula and sound presented by their latest Games Of The XXI Olympiad and it's the tracks from said album that shine the brightest. The high energy danceable pop of Go Slow is executed as perfectly as it is on record, though the mix sounds a little muddy. Victorious sees the band give it their all, especially the repeated vocal lines of Andrew Coates, which are quite passionate while still retaining his lethargic Ian Curtis schtick, though it all still sounds ahem, muddy. Sexy Polizei oddly jumps out of the muddy fray and is hard-hitting and definitely gets the biggest audience response, despite the notably and painfully inaudible drums. 

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The set finishes with Closing Ceremony close to ten minutes ahead of schedule and, although that allows a bit of free time to explore the cat wing of the exhibition, it is a bit of a let down. With Up Late At NGV not being a solely music-focused event, when considering the excellent line-ups it offers, a little more care could be taken for the fans who are there to see this side.