Dangerous, unhinged and unpredictable are all words I would have at one time used to describe The Brian Jonestown Massacre. An opinion I had formed after hearing numerous fan’s accounts of the band’s on tour antics and more so after watching the 2004 documentary ‘Dig’, which until now was my only experience of the band live.
So as I arrive at the packed out HMV Ritz in anticipation to see one of my favourite bands live, for the first time, I have absolutely no idea what to expect.
Anton Newcombe once infamous for his on stage bust ups and inter-band fall outs effortlessly leads his band through a career spanning set including , ‘Wisdom’, ‘That Girl Suicide’ and ‘Open Heart Surgery’. It is clear that this is a more confident, mature Brian Jonestown Massacre and this is reflected in moments such as the beautifully crafted ‘Anenome’ and fan favourite ‘Servo’. The set also includes two new songs ‘Viholliseni Maalla’ and ‘Waking Up to Hand Grenades’ which sit comfortably beside their older more established songs.
It’s great to see Matt Hollywood back in the band as his presence gives the band an extra dynamic; this is most notable during ‘Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth’, definite crowd pleaser. The main focal point is as always the enigmatic tambourine man himself, Joel Gion. Joel even tries his hand at singing during the set which is met with applause from his audience.
For a moment, there is a brief glimpse of the Brian Jonestown Massacre of old, as a disagreement erupts on stage regarding the volume of the keys. This in turn sparks some sort of reaction from the crowd and results in a pint being hurled forward towards the stage and in the direction of lead singer Anton. We can only hope that the contents of the glass are lager or some other inoffensive liquid, however at £4.30 a pint I find this hard to believe. Unfortunately for the plastic cup culprit the song had finished and Anton manages to single him out. Personally I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of Anton’s rants, however this time he seems justified in his response. (It’s important to note that from this point on no more cups are thrown at Anton).
Luckily this does nothing to spoil the mood of the band and we reach the climax of the show. An unforgettable rendition of ‘Straight Up and Down’ which cleverly merges in to an outro of not only ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ but also ‘Hey Jude’, needless to say that the entire Ritz is now participating in a mass sing along.
At just over two hours, the gig is definitely value for money. For me this is the most important gig of the summer, and it’s safe to say that The Brian Jonestown Massacre have not let their fans down.