LIVE: Bishopskin + Black Bordello @ Tileyard London

London Gig Weekly's latest livestream offering was a mix of folkloric praise and beguiling charisma, from two of London's more captivating emerging artists.
Posted: 30 March 2021 Words: Miles Ellingham

London Gig Weekly have been outdoing themselves lately with expertly curated livestreams from Horsey, MEAT and Fake Turins. Likewise, last Sunday saw a rapturous double bill at Tileyard London, with Peckham’s own experimental outfit, Black Bordello supporting Bishopskin – a postmodern, Christian rock band. 

Black Bordello were out first and made a craterous imprint on the show. They’ve also accrued a new backing singer, who brings welcome harmonic depth to the group. Black Bordello have a new EP coming out, which is an incredibly exciting prospect seeing as it’ll be lined with a rich vein of fresh material including ‘Fail Better’, ‘Nunhead’ and ‘Drones’. ‘Fail better’, the title taken from a famous Samuel Beckett dictum, is a hymn against self-doubt and it’s incredibly moving as it crescendos outwards, thickening as it goes. ‘Drones’ is a dark piece of theatre from the point of view of a MQ-1 Predator and ‘Nunhead’, which kicked-off proceedings, draws on post-punk, PJ Harvey-style traditions.  The group boasts some exceptional musical talent; they’ve got an extraordinary rhythm section and, of course, there’s frontwoman Sienna Bordello, whose charisma is captivating, and whose voice can move from restraint to explosive delirium in a matter of seconds.  “I love you so much I wanna kill you” she sings, before breaking into a mad frenzy. 

Next came Bishopskin. When you think of Christian rock, what comes to mind? Whatever it is, it’s probably not Bishopskin.  The group’s frontman, Tiger Miles, has an operatic voice and a commanding stage presence. He’s is a bit like Don Van Vliet – only if Vliet had packed up and gone to live in a rectory for couple of years. Miles is also helped along by the masterful dexterity of guitarist James Donovan, formerly of HMLTD. Bishopskin’s songs are canticles of praise and worship, vigorously expressed through the body of Miles in a beguiling, orphic fugue state. “Sing with me church!” clamours Miles before moving into repeated calls of “hallelujah”. The religiosity, however, is sincere; there was even an impromptu reading from Luke 10:18 and Matthew 6:25 – maketh that what thine wilt. It’s genuinely difficult to pull yourself away from Bishopskin, the folkloric return of Donovan’s guitar riffs along with Miles’ Benjamin Clementine-esque vocal approach is engaging – they’ve carved out an odd niche for themselves. It’s “Bishops-kin”, by the way, not “Bishop-skin”. 

I hate livestreams for the most part; when this dreadful moment in history has passed, we’ll be glad to be rid of them – but this one felt different. June 21st seems a long way off, but with the help of London Gig Weekly and bands like Black Bordello and Bishopskin, we might just make it. 

To hear more from Bishopskin, click here.

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