Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubEdit this event
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are a band who have already proved their worth, both live and on record. Over the course of their four albums, they have shown themselves fully capable of producing the kind of garage-rock that sits up there with the scuzzy, filthy best of them.
Tonight, at Madrid's Sala Heineken, we are not denied snapshots of their abilities. We behold their capacity for hammering out the kind of big, rousing, dirty choruses ('Spread Your Love') that could keep festival crowds chanting for decades to come. We see them brooding over slow-burning numbers whose every chord sizzles with sex ('Shade of Blue', from 2003's Take Them On, On Your Own). We find ourselves swept away on the tide of a throbbing rhythm section ('Stop'), becoming unknowingly wrapped up in a senseless sense of urgency.
And yet, at the end of the night, we still leave the venue dogged by a nagging sense of disappointment that we just can't seem to shake off. Why? Because, aside from the scattered highlights (see above), it all just feels a bit, well, half-arsed. Take 'Too Real' (from 2001's B.R.M.C.), for example. On record, exactly the kind of dirty, sulky scuzz that led us to like this band in the first place. Tonight, sadly, nothing more than lacklustre, a damp squib that should be going somewhere, but just never does.
In their now frequent deviations from the party line, too, they disappoint. 'Shuffle Your Feet' (from 2005's Howl), an impressive, and undeniably accomplished, foray into pastures country, tonight leaves the audience visibly bored. It is clear from their demeanour that they are no longer the po-faced, monosyllabic, journalist's worst nightmare that we first knew and, erm, loved. Tonight it feels as if, in this attitude makeover, they have sacrificed some of the testosterone-fuelled appeal that characterises their best recorded work.
It certainly does not work in their favour that support this evening comes in the form of The Warlocks, whose utterly convincing, over-sexed blues succeed in showing the big kids exactly how it should be done.
The headliners' cover of Bob Dylan's 'The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll' again fails to convince, drifting aimlessly into the tiresome and self-indulgent. When DiS saw the band play in Sheffield a few months ago to promote latest album Baby 81, singer Robert Levon Been played this in the car park after the gig. Perhaps that's where it should have stayed.
As a final twist of the knife, their encore and, most notably, the excellent 'Red Eyes And Tears' (B.R.M.C.), shows them breaking out the raw, infectious energy that we have been longing for throughout the better part of the set. They then proceed to promptly sod off. 'Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll' indeed.
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