I didn't know much about this band before I went to review them, but the experience made me a convert, seeing beyond the dominant forces of their starring role in rock movie Dig! and its mythologising of BJTM’s Anton Newcombe, reclining on the heels, swaying under the smoke and haze, looking at the person to the right, cooing, “It’s allll abouttt the musssiiicc, maaaaann”…
With Dig! both curse and blessing (there’s big crowd here but don’t bother asking them to name the song they’ve just heard), trotted out from it’s sentimental celluloid Americana and zapped down on to the stage, The Brian Jonestown Massacre stand oddly juxtaposed. Outfit leader Newcombe, famously domineering and volatile at the best of times, stands left of stage, at right angles to the crowd, apparently casting an Orwellian eye over his band members, dare they step out of line or play a note wrong.
Opening with a trail of lucid feedback under dim green lights hides the band’s initial awkwardness, the meandering stoner symphonics helping them to relax and grab a hold of the situation. Song follows song but the crowd/stage gap isn’t quite bridged, until an ecstatically received Never The Less incites such feverous cheering that I ask the bloke next to me what the song is called, so that this review doesn’t completely flop.
From here onwards the show turns full circle. At first hiding beneath his Sherlock Holmes cap, the crowd enthusiasm sees Anton resurrect an animated, engaging character. With it comes the realisation that, far from the outsider’s choice, BJTM are a fucking brilliant band that people need to dedicate more time too. Names elude me, save a momentously placed segue into a cover of The Smiths’ That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More, but with each song passing and the crowd finding themselves more and more immersed in it’s rock idealism, by the draw of curfew at 11.30, it feels the show has been cut short, just as it started to really get going. Still, Dig! or no Dig!, tonight BJM proved they’re an entity to their own, and a valuable one at that. You’d be fools not to listen in.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre played Nottingham Trent University Union on Wednesday 25 October 2006
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - website
All photos by Peter Norman (c)
Please note - all images are subject to copyright and may not be used withour permission