Saturday 21 July 2007

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Rock City

One of the most striking things about Rock City tonight is the lack of smoke. I never thought they'd get the smoking ban to stick in places like this but there are no dissenters tonight.

Black Rebel are a no-frills three-piece rock band, and a bit of an acquired taste. As Daughter isn't really familiar with their music, I wouldn't say this was a good choice for her first time but then again do we ever get to really choose our first time? It is though a typical Rock City gig. Take the support band for instance - The Black Angels. Also from the US they claim to be inspired by The Velvet Underground which I can see but to me they remind me of some of the darker bands of the 1980's Goth era. They're quite good in a dark and brooding sort of way, jolly they're certainly not. There slogan is 'The Black Angels are marching forward into battle for your souls'. Quite.

Black Rebel themselves are late taking the stage which means it could be a short show, as Saturday is a club night and they're supposed to be off stage for 10.15.

Rock experience wise, it starts well, Robert Turner is in the crowd before the first song 'Took Out A Loan' is even half way through. When he isn't strutting around the stage or jumping into the crowd he often puts his hood up, like a sulky teenager. Before he goes down on his knees with his guitar and tries to stoke up the feedback, with seemingly little success. I think the sound engineer won that particular battle. Little did I know at the time but the gig nearly didn’t happen. Last nights show in Bristol was cancelled because Turner had a throat infection. So I suppose he deserves extra credit for the tracks he took vocals on.

A lot of the set is taken from their new album 'Baby 81', although the band regularly dip back into their earlier albums and even pull songs from their country detour 'Howl'.

As they mix their old and new, it occurs to me that they are even a bit like Daughter, or perhaps like any woman, in that they have a penchant for dramatic mood swings. E.g. here's a song to jump around to (e.g. 'What Ever Happened'), here's a folk song to make you cry (anything from 'Howl'), here's a moody one to have sex to (e.g. the long brooding 'American X').

Towards the end most of the band go off stage leaving lead guitarist and singer Peter Hayes on his own. With his guitar and his harmonica he delivers a couple more songs from 'Howl'. The rest of the band return to play two requests. The crowd shout, predictably, for 'Spread Your Love' and 'Six Barrel Shotgun'. Although not necessarily my choices, they go down well, particularly with the crowd surfers who seem to have turned up late. My favourite 'Stop' goes unplayed.

They play one more, 'All You Do Is Talk' from the current album. Then they are gone, although I think they would have happily played on if there hadn't been the club night induced curfew.

A good performance, although not as good as when I've seen them before. I thought it was all a bit disjointed, perhaps trying to hard to knit their differing material together.

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