The last time I was scheduled to review this dark and brooding bunch the gig got cancelled due to illness. So I wasn’t about to let the m pass through Nottingham without me being there on this occasion…
Date: March 29, 2013
Venue: Rock City
Never a joyous bunch at the best of times, with their caliginous, moody demeanours, this tour, and the album it promotes, has reason to be particularly dark and mournful. The album, Specter at the Feast, is their first record since Michael Been, the band’s technician, mentor and father to front man Robert Levon Been no less, died of a heart attack. Therefore, this gig is tinged with the dank air of sorrow and bereavement.
However, somehow Been’s tragic loss appears to have galvanised the band. The three members skulk onto the stage in typical BRMC aloofness; the dark aura of death looming above them still it would seem. But as they tear into recent single Let the Day Begin, and churn out one of their debut record’s masterpieces, Red Eyes and Tears, it’s clear that their loss has instilled a defiant stoicism within the band which is palpable.
Been battles with his guitar to conjure a bounty of extraordinary riffs, while co-singer Peter Hayes rattles his bass to form a sludgy and progressive noise.
It’s ear-splittingly loud, as they thrash away at their instruments with devilish abandon, creating a froth of distorted psychedelia, particularly on crowd pleasers Whatever Happened to my Rock ‘n’ Roll, Love Burns and the glam-stomp of Spread Your Love. These songs help forge a moshpit by virtue of the fact that, despite the band having just released album number seven, those songs from their debut may never be bettered.
But it’s not all discordant guitars, ferocious drums and frazzled basslines. Inevitably, that aura of death which had been hanging throughout descends on three acoustic songs halfway in, with Been’s Mercy inducing neck hairs to stand on end such is its poignant subject matter and inherent pain.
Dark, heavy and mournful, this club has lost a member, a mentor and a father. But it’s lost none of its soul or energy.