Tonight’s openers, Seattle’s Night Beats are, aesthetically at least, a hipster’s dream. A cowboy hat-wearing guitarist/singer, a flat-capped drummer, a grey-suited bassist with a moustache; you can almost visualise the Portlandia sketch. However, there’s clearly a lot more to them than their dress code, as their brand of rocky blues somewhere in the region of Cloud Nothings or Wolfmother has the beards and v-necks around the room bobbing their heads in approval for pretty much the duration of their 45-minute set. A solid introduction to the band, and a good warm-up for tonight’s main event.
San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC) have not changed a bit since their self-titled debut burst onto the scene in 2001 – still they don the black jeans and black jackets, but perhaps have just a few more greys up top than they used to. No matter – they still rock like the last 17 years never happened.
Spook, from newest 2018 release Wrong Creatures (amazingly, their 8th studio album) starts things off in fine moody fashion before guitarist Peter Hayes hands over vocal duties to bassist Robert Levon Been on Little Thing Gone Wild and assumes harmonica duty whilst churning out the killer riffs. King of Bones follows a similar pattern, with drummer Leah Shapiro thrashing at the hi-hat on the closest thing BRMC will ever have to a bona fide indie-dance tune.
Beat The Devil’s Tattoo understandably gets the biggest cheer of the night thus far, with all 3 band members contributing to the epic chorus, and is followed by the epic blues stomp Ain’t No Easy Way and a storming Berlin – certainly, BRMC are not as moody live as you might expect from their albums. Conscience Killer comes next and backs up that sentiment, certainly the loudest moment of the night so far.
White Palms is another live gem, breaking down in the middle as Been mumbles the ‘I’m the kinda guy who leaves the scene of the crime’ lines, before the song stirs back to life with a bang, ending in a flurry of blinding yellow lights. Things slow down briefly as Hayes runs though Complicated Situation alone on stage, before the band returns to resume the blazing set with Shuffle Your Feet, before taking things up another notch with a double helping from their timeless debut in the form of the timeless Love Burns and Rifles.
Robert takes over on piano on new song All Rise; after messing up the intro somewhat, he blames the fact that he has probably taken too much medication on account of ‘sharing diseases’ with the rest of the band, much to the amusement of all assembled. The main set rounds off in an emphatic manner with the brilliant Six Barrel Shotgun and Spread Your Love, during which a raucous pit forms at the front amidst the euphoria.
After a brief pause, the band is summoned back on stage via the usual “Olé Olé” chants, and blaze into the classic Red Eyes And Tears. As the song nears its conclusion, the sound cuts out, bang on 11pm – evidently, that’s the curfew. As the sound is turned back on, the band jokingly play the last 10 seconds of that song, before Been promises “We got one last song, you don’t gotta cut us off!” The fantastic Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll is that song in question, as the pit erupts one last time to burn up every last ounce of energy it has left before the band leave the stage for good after almost 2 hours in all. A truly triumphant return for BRMC.
Little Thing Gone Wild
King of Bones
Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
Ain’t No Easy Way
Question of Faith
Carried From the Start
Complicated Situation (Robert solo acoustic)
Shuffle Your Feet
In Like the Rose
Six Barrel Shotgun
Spread Your Love
Red Eyes And Tears
Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song)
Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Steve Gerrard