It’s hard to believe that Californian rock band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has been in existence since 1998. For me, their near-perfect blend of neo-psychedelia and barely-restrained garage-rock aggression transcends time and trends, owing to the fact that throughout their seven album, fifteen year career they haven’t ever tried to be anyone but themselves. Originally on the line-up of the now deceased Harvest Festival, the band delighted their Australian fans by swiftly responding to the cancellation of their festival shows and announcing a headlining tour of their own. Tonight’s result is that Brisbane gets to experience Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in West End’s The Hi-Fi. Game on.
An already quite full venue greets support act Immigrant Union; a band of mish-mashed styles (both musically and hair-wise), featuring Dandy Warhols’ drummer Brent DeBoer on frontman duties. Written descriptions of their music often feature the word ‘folk’, but tonight’s performance is a quite exhilarating mix of bluesy roots and country, with extended jams only being beaten in length by the awesome hair of singer-guitarist Bob Harrow.
Lighting in a now packed Hi-Fi is sparse and ominous as the effortlessly cool trio of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club walk onto the stage, amid reverberating roars of welcome and gasps of shock (come on, people) at guitarist/vocalist Peter Hayes having a solitary cigarette perched on his guitar neck, the light trail of smoke heading ceiling-wards from the red-hot tip while reflecting the light and adding to his already smooth exterior.
Starting with the grand ‘Hate The Taste’, the trio build a monumental sound from their respective instruments, before heading into ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ and a cover of ‘Let The Day Begin’ by bassist Robert Been’s father’s band The Call. Switching styles, instruments, pace, and groove comes easy to the three-piece throughout, as an ecstatic crowd are treated to the likes of ‘Ain’t No Easy Way’, ‘Screaming Gun’ and ‘Conscience Killer’, before a final blast of scathing, fiercely powerful guitar rock with ‘Spread Your Love’.
Obviously an encore is called for, and BRMC oblige with a further four-song outing, including ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song)’. With pounded ears, a sense of dark elation, and the foreboding doom of the working week ahead, we make for home. What a bloody great gig.