(New York – April 9)
In all walks of life we can get to experience the finer things. Cigar aficionados get their Cubans and wine snobs get Clarets & Beaujolais. Music fans get Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who, during a 12 year career, have given us 6 brilliant albums, fusing together brands of music such as shoe gazing, post punk, rockabilly, alt & psychedelic rock, paying homage to such greats as The Bunnymen, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Verve & Ride to name but a few. Molded together, it produces a raw and rare sound, not mainstream but almost underground as they’ve largely chosen to shun the limelight and do things their own way, prompting them to set up their own independent label, Abstract Dragon in ’06, the platform for their last 3 albums.
Last month saw the release of ‘Beat the Devil’s Tattoo‘, which came out with little pomp and fanfare to a legion of fans and is receiving rave reviews, some citing it a return to form – it could well be one of their best pieces of work. BRMC hit New York on the latest leg of the current tour, showcasing Devil’s Tattoo, for a 2 night stint at Webster Hall. I caught them on Friday night when they were supported by Alberta Cross who offered us a set peppered with many familiar and varied sounds interpreted in their own way. Some were bluesy, indie, rock or atmospheric, with a good use of guitar effects and keys. They were well received by a large crowd, who had obviously arrived early to claim their floor space. A wise move, as by the time BRMC were due on stage the place was packed to the rafters with a mixed crowd anticipating their arrival and the chance to see this new album and line up live.
The 3 members, now including Ravonettes drummer Leah Shapiro, hit the stage to a series of whoops, whistles and cheers. Opening with two songs from the new album, ‘War Machine‘ a slow, pounding and rather moody song with a great use of the bass, then diving straight into ‘Mama Taught Me Better‘ with it’s driving beat and Hammond solo in the middle, they quickly stamped their authority on the venue, filling it with a huge presence and plenty of attitude. Leah proved to be a power house on the skins and her introduction hasn’t altered their sound, only enhanced it. Proof of this came in ‘Berlin‘ which sees Peter Hayes take over vocal duties and Rob Been swap his battered semi-acoustic bass for a Les Paul. This leaves Leah to hold the back line on her own, which she pulled off flawlessly.
The crowd was in awe and absorbed each song as the band tore through the set, which offered a wide selection of previous releases such as the political ‘American X‘ and the punk inspired ‘Whatever Happened to My Rock And Roll’. As expected ‘Beat the Devil’s Tattoo’ made up most of the set, including ‘Conscience Killer‘, a rock n roll wall of sound, and BTDT, the title song, giving us a bluesy, country influence, concentrated mainly on vocals. This album isn’t a departure from the norm, rather a piece of work that provides us with a journey through their career and this performance proves that they are at their best live. What becomes apparent at a BRMC show is these are three musicians who produce a huge sound and are so wrapped up in the music and truly are masters of their craft. They didn’t disappoint. BRMC don’t really get fans at gigs, merely humble people who pay respect to an awesome band and sound.
Check out our live shots from BRMC’s show at Webster Hall:
Bob Dylan’s “Vision of Johanna” covered by Robert Levon Been from Black Rebel Motorcycle club ( B.R.M.C) [Thanks @ charlouzze]