Black Rebel Motorcycle Club : London WC2 Astoria

A sweet sensation, a simple chord, a new religion?...

There was a time back there, back in the wastelands of nu-metal, when

even Slipknot

started to look quite attractive in certain lights.

Surrounded by the kind of ill-attired, florid jocks who could only turn

on a Foot Locker fetishist, they were grim rock days. Of course, thanks

to The Strokes‘ adorable savoir-faire and the slightly deviant matching

set of Jack and Meg White, sex is back on the musical agenda with a

whip-handed vengeance. Now, with[a]Black Rebel Motorcycle Club[/a]

, a new dark

frisson has been added to the menu.

Before anyone decides such issues “trivialise the music”, let’s point

out that it’s little to do with the way Robert Turner and Peter Hayes

look (for the record, impeccably cool) and it certainly isn’t

recommended that all bands follow the example of dear old George Michael

and dress up like the Michelin Man in the quest for sexual shock.

Instead, [a]Black Rebel Motorcycle Club[/a]’s feedback-spiked music is simply evidence of something

that hasn’t been sanitised, something uncontrolled and illicit,

qualities which instantly makes it a good choice for consenting adults.

The obsessive guitar flicker of ‘Love Burns’, the ebb and surge of

‘Awake’ – these are songs with come-to-bed eyes and if the music

occasionally conveys gone-to-sleep wastedness instead, like the

enervated crash of ‘As Sure As The Sun’, that just adds to their

unpasteurized allure.

Despite what you might have heard, however, necrophilia is certainly not

their kink. [a]Black Rebel Motorcycle Club[/a]’s influences are obvious and well-documented – it is

faintly amazing that Alan McGee ended up with the Swedish showband and

not this group – but the exact components of their immaculate dark-side

synthesis become unimportant within five seconds of first song ‘Red Eyes

And Tears’. Like all bands that matter, they generate a thousand

brilliant moments all of their own, those telling fragments that fuse

into an exhilarating whole. The phrasing. The posture. The pauses. Even

their hair is moody.They probably shouldn’t let support band The View

back again to add percussion and harmonica to the Spiritualizedfreak-

out encore ‘Salvation’ – it’s like watching the YMCA girl on ‘Pop Idol’ –

but an over-generosity to fellow performers is hardly a fault.

Tonight, though, it’s the nonchalant vocal-sharing on ‘Whatever Happened

To My Rock’N’Roll? (Punk Song)’ that most vividly encapsulates the [a]Black Rebel Motorcycle Club[/a]

vocation. Turner dispatches the verses, Hayes spits out the chorus and

it’s ludicrously thrilling because the message is inescapable. [a]Black Rebel Motorcycle Club[/a]


an entity, focussed and complete. It doesn’t matter who does what. It’s

that they do it at all that counts.

A sweet sensation, a simple chord, a new religion? If that’s the

doctrine [a]Black Rebel Motorcycle Club[/a]

follow, it’s also the doctrine they spread.

Victoria Segal