Judging by their Primavera set yesterday, Black Country, New Road are going to be just fine without Isaac Wood

Building a whole new set from scratch immediately after losing your frontman? No big deal

Following the departure of frontman and lyricist Isaac Wood earlier this year, you’d forgive Black Country, New Road a little uncertainty about where to head next. Losing their talisman (not for the first time, for those members who were also in Nervous Conditions) on the eve of a mammoth second album campaign would send many bands into a spin, or at least prompt a pause to consider their options.

Yet Black Country, New Road have never been short of confidence, and they’ve taken the enforced lineup change in their stride, building a whole new set from scratch and sharing vocal duties between them in workmanlike fashion. On the evidence of their set at Primavera Sound 2022, the future’s looking and sounding as bright as ever.

It still feels like this set is a work in progress, but that’s probably because it is. The material they play is unmistakably BC,NR, but there’s a new lightness here; these songs mirror neither the tightly-wound angst-skronk of For The First Time nor the grandiose stadium emo of Ants From Up ThereSuggesting who might be next to step into the role of de facto frontperson, the most striking tracks they play are semi-recognisable from bassist Tyler Hyde‘s solo work (as Tyler Cryde), which add a layer of Anna Calvi-like drama on top of the band’s more familiar blend of post-rock and indie-folk influences.

Perhaps the most heartening element of this afternoon’s set is how comfortable this most precocious of bands look together, spread across the enormous Primavera stage and bathed in the rich, golden-hour Catalan sunlight. After almost every song, one member or another takes a second to shout out a friend or fan like the politest, poshest pirate radio MC you’ve ever heard, and the audience are thanked numerous times with an air of genuine warmth. Far from a wobbly step into the unknown – or indeed a rehash of the neurotic doom that characterised much of BC,NR’s early work – this feels like we’re catching up with old friends. Honestly, it’s lovely.

Photography by Clara Orozco