The bountiful harvest of festival sideshows continues. Last night was my sixth (I think, I’m losing count) time seeing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
I didn’t get to the Metro early enough to see the opening act. In fact I missed half of the opening song by BRMC, who must have started their set five minutes earlier than the scheduled time! As Siany has pointed out to me, that’s not very rock ‘n’ roll.
What is rock ‘n’ roll are the bass-heavy, fuzzed-out jams that BRMC excel at. They’ve made four very good – but essentially identical – rock albums and one acoustic roots album. The latter album, Howl, serves them well live as they can now slow things down mid-set. But the rest of the time they create a wall of guitar sound and just get stompy or psychedelic (or, sometimes, a bit of both). And underpinning it all is Robert Levon Been’s super-distorted bad-ass bass. That’s the sound that makes this band.
This is the first time I’ve seen BRMC since ex-Raveonettes drummer Leah Shapiro joined them, replacing Nick Jago. She did what was required, but I didn’t see too much flair. The band still make an awesome power trio, though, and create an unholy amount of noise.
There were three highlight songs for me. One – no surprise – was “Spread Your Love” from their first album. The other two were both from the Baby 81album: a thrashing “Berlin” and a slow, sultry “666 Conducer”. The last really surprised me; they gave it far more sexy swing than it has on record.
Still, overall, seeing BRMC is an exercise in downbeat rock familiarity. You know just what you’re going to get. And I like what I get.