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Brian Jonestown Massacre
Gig Review...
Brian Jonestown Massacre
There's a strange crowd gathering in the Spring and Airbrake to witness the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the vehicle for the wildly ambitious and volatile Anton Newcombe. He's the man who pioneered free album downloads, inspired everyone from the Warlocks to BRMC and never, ever sold out.

However he's also the same man whose paranoid meltdown was documented in the essential rockumentary DiG!, he isn't afraid of a bit of on stage fisticuffs and has an extreme reaction to hecklers.

So aside from the usual crop of hipsters there are two distinct crowds. One, in standard rock regalia has seen the documentary and very little else and is here for a car crash. The other is decked out in immaculate mod regalia, hip boys and groovy girls who wouldn't look out of place in Carnaby Street at its peak. These are the real fans who've looked past the BJM's reputation and seen them for what they are - a top notch psychedelic outfit.

The scene is set by the See See, a London outfit who've gained comparison to The Las and Stone Roses. Their sound is competent enough, although we fail to hear the Stone Roses and Las comparisons. Their reverb heavy, 12 string chug is diverting enough, in a sunny afternoon at a festival way. It's well received, but it's hard to imagine such patently unfashionable music getting far in the current climate.

Then the main event - eight sinister figures shuffle on stage, pick up their instruments and begin a hypnotic drone that will go on for at least two hours. Anton takes his position stage left, face obscured by his fringe and dressed entirely in black. He won't say a word for the duration of the set either - oozing aloof cool or an air of "can't be bothered" depending on who you ask.

Joel Gion, the band's Bez character, isn't much better, seemingly "preoccupied" and content with shaking his maraca and making sarcastic remarks after the pointed Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth. The rest of the band lurk in the shadows. They're top notch lurkers.

BJM sound like what an elderly Daily Mail columnist believes all modern music sounds like - he's heard the Beatles once, didn't like them and imagines sleazy riffs and debauched lyrics that'll drive the kids into a drug induced frenzy of vice. There's something intoxicating about the lysergic sounds, promising good times (at a price) and wasted days. Nevertheless is a particular highlight, but the only issue is the fact that the songs get a bit samey.

Newcombe's main problem (musically, at least) has been his lack of quality control. With over ten albums to choose from, there's a lot of ground to cover and the gig was maybe half an hour longer than it needed to be. Saying that, the band were on top form, tight and professional and a million miles away from the chaotic mess seen in DiG! Anyone who turned up expecting a car crash was sorely disappointed, while anyone who turned up to see a great rock and roll band went home with a big, woozy smile on their face.

Shane Horan

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Gig Details
Venue: Spring & Airbrake
Location: Belfast
Date: 19/5/2010

Related Links
+ Brian Jonestown Massacre
+ The See See