The Brian Jonestown Massacre At The Academy – Review
Psychedelic visionaries The Brian Jonestown Massacre bring their high gain blend of 60s infused rock to The Academy tonight, and a lot of hype too. The BJM are notorious for their raucous live shows, which often go on for up to three hours. Frontman Anton Newcombe is a one of a kind, and is as eccentric as he is talented. With no support, and an extra early start time, anything could happen.
Arriving rather gingerly onstage, the BJM start their set playing to a less than half filled room. They start a full hour before most bands do, so attendance is less than impressive at this point. Do they care? Not even slightly. As Anton says, ‘Tonight is all about the music’. ‘Never Ever’, ‘Who’ and ‘That Girl Suicide’ come in quick succession, the latter packing the raw energy only a six piece band could deliver. Newcombe’s vocals are perfectly preserved, and the band are amazingly tight.
1998 belter ‘Jennifer’ follows a small spate with the guitar tech and his apparent carelessness with guitar tunings, and the monumental ‘Anemone’ gets the crowd singing along passionately. At this point, the frontman’s attention is drawn to an audience member who has thrown something in his direction. Newcombe springs into the crowd and engages in a ruckus with the spectator, until they are forcibly separated and the gig can resume. While proving as an entertaining moment, and a no nonsense way of dealing with the trouble maker, there’s a feeling that it takes away somewhat from these songs of love and peace.
In any case, this is soon forgotten as more timeless tunes come relentlessly in our direction. Tender ballad ‘Down’ brings the mood to a more somber place before an unknown jam blows everyone’s eardrums in the best way possible. Another classic comes via ‘The Devil May Care’, evoking more crowd participation and giddiness. Having now played for over two hours, the gig seems like it’s coming to a close. Yet, more tunes come in the shape of the totally groovy ‘Servo’, and a newly composed film tune called ‘Government Beard’.
Finally, after nearly three hours of non stop music, the set is closed with ‘She’s Gone’ a ten minute long wall of beautiful noise. An improvised noise section closes out the set once and for all, leaving everyone firmly baffled.
Those once in a lifetime bands that you just scratch your head over are pretty rare these days. As someone who questioned the mass amounts of praise Anton Newcombe has gathered over the years, I am now silenced. The Brian Jonestown Massacre are a bizarre, amazing and truly genuine thing.