Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Newcastle Student Union Basement, 19.04.10

In the suitably dingy basement of the Newcastle Uni Student’s Union, support for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club comes from Dark Horses*, who play a bewildering form of gloom-rock and come complete with their very own goth-Bez, except with less dancing and a steel chain instead of a tambourine. Then, the perpetually pissed-off Black Rebel Motorcycle Club take to the stage. Opening with a few off their lackluster new album ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’, the show only really begins when a barrage of singles shock the crowd into life, with ‘Love Burns’ and ‘Berlin’ unleashing a wave of lager over a circle of fist-pumping fans. The contrast between these older and much stronger songs and the disappointing new material sums up the night, signaling a band in decline.

Save for an extended acoustic version of ‘Sympathetic Noose’ and a couple of others from their career-best third album ‘Howl’, material comes largely from BRMC’s bulging arsenal of heavy, four-to-the-floor, feedback-laden and riff-driven rock. This all makes for a pretty good time, particularly during ‘Spread Your Love’, a song which encapsulates the spirit of BRMC in it’s fuzz-bass, stomping drums and electrifying harmonica. Before this, ‘Weapon of Choice’ and ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll’ buoy the energetic crowd and allow for sweaty heads to meet leather jackets in sticky matrimony. But the cracks start to appear once BRMC ignore the material off their debut and ‘Howl’, bringing out a number of patchy songs from their other, inferior, albums.

There’s a clear difference between the songs BRMC wrote 10 years ago and the songs they’re writing now- it’s just the difference comes in the crowd’s stunted reaction to them, not in the actual songs themselves. Some of the band’s songs all too often regurgitate the template they followed on their debut, devoid of anything new at all, painfully clear during the nine-minute dirge of ‘Generation-X’ from ‘Baby 81’. BRMC have never been a particularly original band and the garage-rock revival we saw at the turn of the millennium has always worn its influences on its heavily-tattooed sleeve, but BRMC’s new songs reveal a severe lack of ideas: classics aside, they are fast becoming garage-rock dinosaurs, desperately needing to evolve.


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