Music review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
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IF THREE copies of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat album cover somehow gained sentience and formed a band, they would look and sound exactly like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Academy, Glasgow ****

Despite hailing from San Francisco, their take on psychedelia is distinctly lacking in peace and love. As you’d expect from a band who named themselves after Marlon Brando’s leather gang from The Wild One, they’re more in tune with the murky brown acid and Hell’s Angels era of the late 1960s counterculture. You can imagine them playing at Altamont and thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Their whole aesthetic is affected, of course, but that doesn’t matter when they make such a bruising, exciting, powerful noise. The BRMC live experience is a violent sonic attack.

Singing bassist Robert Levon Been’s heavily distorted bass sounds like a battalion of angry robots wrestling in a swamp. It’s enormous. The same goes for Peter Hayes’ sturm and clang guitar and the elephantine whomp of Leah Shapiro’s kick drum.

BRMC are sexy and threatening, like Jessica Rabbit with a flick-knife. They’ve somehow managed to sustain their stoic commitment to garage rock minimalism over 20 years. Even the Ramones and The Jesus and Mary Chain never managed that.

Highlights tonight included lysergic sea shanty Beat The Devil’s Tattoo (of course they have a song called that) and the climactic double whammy of Spread Your Love and Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll? A rhetorical question, of course. Its renegade spirit is in safe hands.

PAUL WHITELAW