Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


Rock royalty such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will always do things how they want. About to smash into their 20th year (can you believe they started in 1998?! Me neither…), the now three-piece announced a new album in September. Releasing just a couple of tracks off Wrong Creatures to whet people’s appetites, their latest tour will stoke fire in any committed fan’s heart ahead of the full release in the new year.

Their evening at Manchester Academy starts off with support act Restavrant. Filling the stage with instruments, the American two-piece brings an explosion of sound to a disappointingly quiet main Academy building – disappointing for the fans who miss out on a killer set. They move from guitar to shredder, smashing the loop pedal as they deliver the kind of metal that reverberates in your chest.

The audience fills up as we get ready for BRMC and the build up – a faint hum from a lead guitar somewhere – gets into your head.

BRMC are on and straight into the first song from Wrong Creatures – ‘Little Thing Gone Wild’. I didn’t know it at the time but the audience reaction to this song kind of sets the precedent for the whole show. People love it, but you can tell they’re used to a certain style of set from the band and not knowing the song makes it hard to get too enthusiastic. BRMC soon pull this back with anthem ‘Beat the Devil’s Tattoo’, the title track from the 2010 album.

The garage rock vibe is strong and it’s not long before the metal gig standard starts to rise – not much dancing, plenty of head banging, a right old sweaty time.

We work our way through some of the strongest beats imaginable. ‘Rival’ from 2013 is like a football chant, it haunts you long after it’s finished; the distortion pedal on ‘Ain’t No Easy Way Out’ is instantly recognisable as a throwback to the band’s mega third album, Howl, and everyone’s listening by the time we get to ‘Berlin’.

Then it’s the perfect time to get into the slower paced, deeper, darker sounds of later albums and the three start to have some fun – BRMC are a joy to watch for the sheer musicianship of two different members singing lead on different songs, supported constantly by the driving beats of their comrades.

They move seamlessly through ‘Question of Faith’ and more, then we’re swaying to ‘Carried From the Start’ like our hearts are breaking all over again.

Now I’ve never seen BRMC live before but I am definitely not expecting a guitar-only acoustic section so I’m pleasantly surprised when Robert Levon Been and then Peter Hayes take some time one on one with the audience. The two leads complement each other really well, one a quiet mumbling of words that cuts deep, the other more gravelly, traditional rock.

Coming out of the acoustic we’re treated to the likes of ‘MK Ultra’ and ‘Spread Your Love’ and we’ve finally got some energy going – it might be the crazy amount of beer I can only imagine is being consumed here tonight but we’re all finally on the same page. It’s like we’ve gone up a gear… just in time for the end of the show.

We storm through ‘Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll’, a question I might have been asking at the start but I’m getting a little closer to answering the longer the show goes on and the more people seem to start lifting their heads.

Quite a bit of the crowd leave before the encore so we manage to get to the 10th/11th row for the final curtain call, which does feel more intimate and how this show should perhaps have been all along, but I leave glad we finally connected, even if it took quite a bit of the show.

I’ve listened to BRMC for years and knew to expect the unexpected and they didn’t disappoint.

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