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Brian Jonestown Massacre Manchester review

Will Metcalfe witness Anton Newcombe and co in fine form at their Academy show.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 22nd Oct 2018

Photo Credit: Bradley Garner

Double double Tom’s and trouble kick starts the noisy opening set from Spanish emo-math rock quartet, Mourn. Carla Perez Vas’ onstage persona is a paradox of her exorcist T-shirt. There is a Stranger Things air to Mourn, mixed with a sad-boy emo tone which their impressive chord progressions bring. As the two guitarists and bass player burst into the crowd to let their hair loose, the drummer looks on, with a look draws pure sympathy.

From experience, it is shit being confined behind the stool. 21 Pilots did try to amend it, but they’re probably left better un-mentioned. As Mourn wish their good-bye’s a response leaves a sour taste in the air. ‘We’ll be around’ says the polite, fresh faced Jazz Rodriguez Beuno. It is followed by a not so friendly, sickly ‘cool’. You needn’t his description to picture the culprit. But there was lust.

Kadha Bonnet also brings support, with intricate guitar harmonies and an outstanding vocal performance, it is hard to tell if the over-ridden bass drum is a perfect accident. However, as the set goes on it leans towards it being purposeful, helping to create subtle pillar-shaking intensity. Somehow. The source of some sexy bass slides is undisclosed. However, despite a flawless set, Bonnet is forced to compete with the reverbed conversation of the Academy. The set ends in irony. As Bonnet announces a cover of the most famous song in the world, she then confirms with her band that the song is Yesterday. Some things you simply cannot write. 

As the stage is set up for Brian Jonestown Massacre, the room is barely half full. It’s too calm. Too collected. The only person visibly intoxicated is the middle-aged woman at the front who is obsessed with a young lad’s curly hair. The bar and toilets are easily accessible. This isn’t what Dig! put in store for us.

But as the lights dim for the entrance of BJM, the crowd has swollen significantly. If you dream of getting a reception, dream of the two receptions Joel Gion receives; the first him walking on stage, the second being his first strike of his tambourine. Rumour has it, you can’t be in Brian Jonestown Massacre if you don’t wear shades. And finally, brandishing ‘EAT SHIT’ across his T-shirt, stands the man himself, Anton Newcombe.

Having to write a setlist if you’re in BJM must be a pain in the arse. Trying to take note of it is something which proves to be quite fictional. Opening with material from recent album, ‘Something Else’, the 16th tambourine of 'Vad Hande Med Dem?' is met with a roar, with younger fans being pushed into small pools of one another.

Anton maintains his dominance over the set and of his band, standing vertically, over-looking his band and keeping them in check. Weed keeps on washing over the crowd, which is a bit bait considering the circumstances. This isn’t Image Dragons in the sunset of Leeds fest. It’s the fucking Brian Jonestown Massacre, a band who openly consume powdered narcotics like an ant eater consumes ants.

The greeny-grey cloud passes over in time for 'Pish', being the first song seeing the crowd in full voice. Back to back with Pish, is Anenome. As epic as the performance of the two songs are to witness, the attempted public signs of affection for the latter are a bit much. 

50p is then inserted into Anton in form of a pint. ‘Don’t throw your fucking pints at my fucking vintage gear you fucking dickhead’. 3 f-words for pint is a respectable rate. Who knows what an appearance of Matt Hollywood might provoke. ‘Anton, get your cock out’ adds another voice amidst the cheers of appreciation for Anton’s array of insults. I mean, is that what’s expected of bands these days? A 51-year-old man, and you’re asking to see his penis?

Where most bands simply save the best songs for last, BJM simply don’t. However, performing Pish and Anenome at the centre of the set does create a central spike, but also leaves space for a mammoth six guitar finale. The size and volume of the anonymous song makes up for the fact the final song wasn’t Servo. Outrage and astonishment in equal amounts.

The bill itself was just strange. Beautiful, but strange. From a Spanish math-rock band, to a weathered Madchester baggy, to flawless jazz induced R&B. And the fucking Brian Jonestown Massacre. The Sopranos of psych-rock. Happy Birthday Strange Days, and thank you.  

Now the wait begins until Dandy Warhol’s come to Manchester. Woo-fucking-woo!