Friday 3 December 2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Rock City, Nottingham

Rock City haven’t got the stage times up for tonight’s concert but their website indicates three bands tonight so by getting there around 7.30 we expect to miss Dark Horses but we should be in time for the Duke Spirit, who I’m keen to see.

Not so. Leila Moss is just finishing up with their last track as we arrive. Only two bands tonight and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on at 8.00. Oh well, at least not long to wait. Thankfully the band have made it up from last night’s show in Portsmouth. I had a feeling a bit of weather wouldn’t stop them.

The gig is billed as part of Rock City's 30th Anniversary Celebrations, not that this means much. Most of their gigs this month seem to be. It’s still something worth celebrating though.

It’s also landmark time for BRMC. They will be performing their 1000th live concert at the Brixton Academy on December 11th, which makes this their 994th.

They are indeed on at 8.00 and play through for a full two hours. The sound isn’t great tonight and the band are beset by a few technical problems. After the opening ‘666 Conducer’, Peter Hayes’s amp appears to pack up. As they sort it. Robert Been picks up an acoustic guitar and breaks into an unscheduled rendition of ‘Sympathetic Noose’ off their acoustic diversion album ‘Howl’. Hayes’ meanwhile lights up a cigarette. Naughty.

Been doesn’t quite finish ‘Sympathetic Noose’ before the amp is sorted and the boys are back to full volume and power with ‘Stop’. About time. They never play that for me, until now.

When I say ‘the boys’, that is slightly incorrect. Shock Horror. Black Rebel now have a girl drummer. It was their drummer, Nick Jago, who kept drifting in and out of the band. Seems he’s currently out and his place has been taken by Leah Shapiro, who has worked with the Raveonettes. Of course, it's the done thing these days. It used to be bass players, and still is to a certain extent, but now its drummers.

Overall it’s a good solid show with a nice selection of old stuff blended with the new from this year’s ‘Beat the Devil's Tattoo’ album, which sounds much better live than on record, with 'Bad Blood' and ‘Half-State’ as good as anything they've done.

BRMC could easily survive on their no frills roof rattling numbers but instead, they deliver a good mix of slow and fast numbers. An old classic, ‘Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song)’, probably as old as Hayes’ shirt which has seen better days, gives way to an acoustic segment in the middle of the set.

At least Hayes’ shirt is black. Been takes off his leather jacket to reveal a very unusual site at BRMC gig, a white t-shirt. All his black ones must be in the wash.

The slow numbers include an unexpected cover of The Pogues ‘Dirty Old Town’ done solo by Been. An interesting choice to say the least. Then Hayes takes up the acoustic baton with ‘Complicated Situation’ and ‘The Toll’. It’s quite striking that a band known mainly for their wall of sound are still lifting a lot of stuff off ‘Howl’, showing how good that album actually was. Perhaps not everyone agrees though. Some of the crowd talk through the acoustic numbers; in fact it’s probably the most chattering I’ve ever heard at a gig. Shame on those people.

Later Been even sits at the piano for another mellow moment, ‘Long Way Down’, before they return to the heavier stuff with Baby 81's awesome ‘Berlin’ and ‘Conscience Killer’ off the new record before they end by giving us a right pummelling with an oldie, ‘Six Barrel Shotgun’.

The amp seemed to go again at start of the encore during ‘Spread Your Love’. Time for another smoke eh Peter? Soon sorted though, which leads us into a fairly slow and moody finish with a double header of the brooding extravagance of ‘Shadows Keeper’ and finally ‘Open Invitation’.

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