Categorized | Live Reviews

Brian Jonestown Massacre – Birmingham O2 Academy (October 16, 2018)

Posted on 18 October 2018 by John Haylock

Two months ago we caught Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Greenman Festival and were overwhelmed (drunk). We had to see them again.

If you’re not familiar with the Brian Jonestown Massacre just think of an old Hollywood western.

Picture the scene, the locals are in the saloon having a drink, laughing and carousing. In the ramshackle street outside ladies with bonnets stumble across the rudimentary High Street, which is little more than a  muddy track, as they make their way to the store for supplies and sundries.

Then in the distance you hear the sound of hooves and some boisterous hollering and swearing as the local gang of bearded unkempt rustlers, outlaws and general ne’r do wells ride into town on their sturdy steeds. The local sheriff ( played by Bradley Walsh) is sent for, he and his deputy (an unshaven belligerent Tom Hardy) walk toward the gang with hands on their holsters, it’s all going to kick off.  Brian Jonestown Massacre have come to town.

Photo Credit: Bradley Garner

Photo Credit: Bradley Garner

And kick off it does down in wild west Birmingham, as 600 rabid hipsters await the arrival of the most bad ass guitar toting scruffs on the planet. Led by  general all round modern day iconoclast and  psychedelic guru Anton Newcombe.

It’s a guitar orgy

The stage is full of guitars, It’s a guitar orgy. A sonic spectacle, which starts of slowly and falteringly with We Never Had a Chance and What Happened to Them.

Then slowly the pace increases and by the time the ecstatic Hold That Thought materialises it’s all systems go.

They have this fantastic primordial soup of a rhythm section, reminiscent of Primal Scream, Ride and absolutely definitely The Rolling Stones, circa Sticky Fingers. It’s a pervasive irresistible beast, that Anton tops off with some tasteful lead work.

By the time we get to perhaps their biggest hit, Anemone, all cylinders are firing. The lighting guy has woken up and were tripping the light fantastic.

Joel Gion on tambourine and flamboyant hand gestures is a focal point. He is the Hendrix of tambourine playing.

The numbers stretch out and enter lengthy jam territory with some great wig outs that you just don’t want to end. I start hearing influences ranging from The Velvet Underground to The Byrds via Spacemen Three. So many influences, so little time.

As we propel towards nearly two hours of this madness, The devil May Care (Mom and Dad Don’t), Drained and What Can I Say assail the senses. When they finish they do it in their trademark manner. No encores, just a version of A Word that segues into a monstrous, almost tortuous ten minute-plus hurricane of feedback and squall.

I shot the sheriff but I did not shoot the deputy.

Review by John Haylock


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