From here on in, the revs are in the red
Get your motor running, the real Black Rebel Motorcycle Club just burned into town. We caught them on a cranky morning first time round, see – that glowering, dour-hearted debut album was them coming round from a whiskey black-out in a smashed up biker bar, their heads full of drug fuzz and only snippets of the previous night’s crazed rock orgy still intact. Tonight – in a cavernous car park better suited to beating rival mobsters to death by lamplight than holding a rock gig – we watch them pick themselves up, dust down their leathers, neck a wake-up pint of Cuervo Gold and hit the fast lane like the howling punk rev-demons they truly are. Those red eyes and tears are from the highway grit in their eye, the only thing that burns is the roadkill under their wheels. Last one to the gates of rock Valhalla is a fuggin’ pussy! Va-ROOOOOMM!!
And thank the Gods of holey-elbowed black clothing for that. With New York now spitting Gang Of Four funk-punk bands quicker that Liam Gallagher can spit teeth, only a year after they emerged BRMC were in danger of becoming the sour old grandads of the scene. Their faithful rendition of a Jesus And Mary Chain bong party in 1987 was already dating rapidly, a snapshot of a dead era that was only thrilling when caught in the glare of the flashbulb. The Oasis supports and dangerously Quo-esque stomp to their biggest hits were nudging them off to the margins of a nower-than-thou Big Apple movement. So thank Christ – whether they spotted the zeitgeist eloping with Electric Six or they got a boot up the arse from their enforced UK exile (drummer Nick Jago is still in hiding from the long arm of the US visa Nazis) – BRMC have woken up and smelt the caw-feee.
They start as they mean to roar on, pummeling the marrow out of two new ‘Whatever Happened…’ style rubber-burners that are not just a statement of thrash-out intent, they’re a manifesto. Discarding the usual lyrical touchstones of Grumpy Men In Black With Nothing To Say (Jesus, the Lord, being ‘let down’, blathering on about ‘rock’n’roll’ in general) ‘Six Barrel Shotgun’ and ‘US Government’ zing and quiver with mysanthropic vitriol and Dubya-wedgieing political rhetoric. They’re Serj Whassisface from System Of A Down‘s brain being infected with the indie virus and they herald a second album that won’t just see BRMC become more sussed and sardonic but actually turn into a – gulp! – party band.
No, don’t adjust your NME, you read right. Remember the elephants off ‘White Palms’? The thumping great bass elephants that plodded grimly up a steep hill throughout the cement smothered Led Zep number, dragging a couple of dead whales each? Well on newie ‘Blown Away’ those elephants kick back at a Brendan Benson pool party while Robert Turner yelps “YEAH! YEAH! YEAHYEAHYEAH!” like he’s auditioning to be a Butlins blackcoat. ‘We’re All In Love’ is pure ‘Born To Be Wild’ freeway ferocity and ‘Stop’, despite being about on-the-road burn-out, comes on like a hedonistic Good Times anthem not a million microdots away from The Dandy Warhols. What was once a great opportunity to whack away a load of horse and watch the ceiling do the can-can has just become the greatest all-out dance-on-your-mates rock show on Earth.
Sign up for the newsletter
The word – and it’s a word as unlikely to appear in a BRMC review as the phrase “model looks” in a critique of The Music – is ‘summer’. Tonight BRMC are human pyramids, they’re piss showers falling on sunburn, they’re Knebworth. ‘Spread Your Love’ prompts a mass outbreak of ‘Spirit In The Sky’ dancing during which 500 witnesses swear blind they saw Peter Hayes smile; ‘Red Eyes And Tears’ is pumped riff-solid until it sounds like ‘The Second Coming’ did in John Squire’s grandest cocaine fantasies. They end with their most savage and euphoric riotrock epiphany yet in ‘Heart And Soul’, Robert screaming “YOU’RE HELPLESS!!/YOU’RE HELPLESS!!” over and over while Peter wrestles the sound of planets exploding from his guitar and a Mary Chain gig riot breaks out inside the speakers. It’s where BRMC smash up the desert town pool hall and exit head-first through the window. From here on in, the revs are in the red.