Gig review by Pete Smyth / Gig photos by Wayne Fox

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

I’ve always been a fan of BRMC, ever since they first glowered into my life in early 2002, hot on the heels of the hipper than hip Strokes and the cartoon garage rockers the Hives, San Francisco 3 piece BRMC always had a touch of the sulky older cousin, a bit distant and not really interested in anyone else, chuffing fags in black leather, always in grainy black and white with smoke billowing around them. It’s been an adore/not that fussed relationship for some time now, I stuck with them up to the 3rd album HOWL, a more stripped back gospel blues hand clap album in stark contrast to their thunderous, distortion psyche rock blues of their debut BRMC and the follow up Take Them On, On Your Own. I actually loved this change of direction for them, something they took to with equal talents.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

After this they kind of drifted off my radar, I’m sorry to say subsequent albums Baby 81 and Beat the Devils Tattoo, kind of passed me by, a couple of hits but not much else. So in support of their latest long player Specter at the Feast, comes tonight’s gig. I arrived with a mix of excitement and trepidation, I longed to be blown off my feet and wrapped in a warm fug of heavy rhythms, feedback and the occasional sing along a hand clap gospel blues style…. it kind of happened?? But not without its drawbacks.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Set opener ‘Let the Day Begin’ fresh off the new release is a decent enough beginning; it is actually a cover song by the band The Call, a kind of homage to the father of bassist Robert Been who sadly passed away last year. This is followed by ‘Rival’ a hefty blues belter with pounding drums taught a lesson by new sticks woman Leah Shapiro. This segues into ‘Red Eyes & Tears’ of their debut, thunderous menacing guitars swirl around the beautiful venue, with its thick well-rounded acoustics. Back to the new release for ‘Hate the Taste’ comes off rather generic and 4 squared rock.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

They quickly follow this up with the tightest, fittest foursome of – ‘Beat the Devils Tattoo,’ ‘Whatever Happened to My Rock n’ Roll,’ ‘Ain’t No Easy Way,’ & ‘Berlin.’ During which the band sound taught, confident and strutting, the room visibly lifts. This is sadly followed by a lacklustre ‘666 Conducer’ a plodding ‘Love Burns’ a lumbering ‘Returning’ from the new album, then into the overly dreary acoustic section, all of which, quickly begins to tire out the already disconnected audience… there are then 9 more songs that drift into one another, the band seem to be tiring or losing their edge.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

However, with the welcome return of ‘White Palms’ from their debut, thick swirling red lights engulf the room, and a back drop reminiscent of Spielberg’s – Close Encounters…’ adding intense claustrophobia before they finally spring back into action, smacking us about the chops with the awesome double header of ‘Six Barrel Shotgun’ and personal highlight ‘Spread Your Love’ with guitarist/vocals Peter Hayes and Bassist/vocals Robert Been trading vocals and riffs with raw passion… the room shakes and jumps to its very core, sweaty backs are slapped, arms aloft… what a finale. Which is where we should have been left, on a massive high, smiling as we saunter off into the unseasonably cold March evening. BUT, they wanted to give us more, not usually a bad thing, but given that the band return with 2 songs that add up to almost 15 minutes, both of which are wonderful on record but after tonight’s already arduous over long set (clocking in at 2 hours) we really don’t need anymore.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

In summary then, they came to us with an impressive 6 album catalogue to choose a set from, they gave us such a varied over long mixed bag that I honestly got a bit lost amongst it all, the regular trips to the toilet or outside for a smoke for a lot of tonight’s audience speaks volumes in the bands ability to hold a room, when they are on their game they are really on their game, blasting the skulls with intense, thunderous riffs, pounding rhythms, glowering lyrics and distortion to the max, sadly it’s the song choices that really let us down tonight. They performed well when it suited, at times it felt like a rehearsal. We know how good they can be, if only they felt more like showing us. I just wish I’d been there to help pick the set.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Gig review and photos by Wayne Fox

The Big Pink

Regular visitors to these pages will know that I prefer to let my photography do my talking for me. However, on this occasion I am making an exception, and am typing at my keyboard, instead of just snapping with my camera :)

One thing struck me with The Big Pink‘s performance this evening, and it’s their similarity musically to the likes of 90s band Sneaker Pimps. This was something that others watching them also commented on, and that’s no bad thing in my humble opinion. The Sneaker Pimps were pretty goddamn great back then, and certainly The Big Pinks “Dominos” has an air of that about it, which they actually closed their set with this evening.

The Big Pink The Big Pink

The Big Pink’s lead-singer Robbie Furze cut a dashing image on-stage tonight in his coolest leopard print jacket, more Freddie Flintstone than Pat Butcher I’ll have you know. Heck, both Furze and Flintstone love their ROCK dagnamit! ;o) Also accompanying Freddie, sorry, Furze on keyboard was a Batgirl-esque mask wearing Mary Charteris and Bam-Bam inspired Vicky Smith (she really bangs those drums I can tell you!). See her ROAR!

The Big Pink

So, in-summary, I enjoyed The Big Pink tonight because they sounded great and looked pretty stonking too. Result!

…should I do anymore reviews I wonder..? Answers on an 90s S.A.E. addressed to…

Wx

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