Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Ambassador, Dublin, 13 May 2004
How long does it take to pull a pint of f**king Guinness? It's the Ambassador
Theatre, we're stuck at the bar and Black Rebel have just ambled onstage. Or at least guitarist Peter
Hayes has, and he's singing a compelling new solo number called 'Complicated
Situation' which is followed by bassist Robert Turner joining him for a laidback
bluesy tune called 'Shuffle Your Feet'. It's hard to avoid a 'what the f**k?' as
- frustrated and still stuck at the bar - we
wonder if the prime exponents of blackclad shutgunbluez psycho-retro-delia have
undergone some sort of 'It used to go like that and now it goes like this!'
It's an opening that stands out all the more in comparison to support band Dead Combo, two shape-throwing demons from Finland by way of New York, who strangle Suicide-type beats out of a drum machine and put some Gibson SG rawk over the top. It's ramshackle, fun and goes down a blast. Surely a Kate Moss endorsement can't be far away.
But, of course, Black Rebel haven't gotten all mellow on us because it seems we need them now more than ever. The recent parting with their record label was never going to be that much of an issue for a band who's last album was called 'Take Them On, On Your Own' and besides, they've got bigger fish to fry.
We finally get down the front by the time 'Spread Your Love' is dispensed three songs in, but it's really only the appetizer for the bulldozing 'Stop' and (after a 'You ready?') 'Six Barrel Shotgun' to kick off with ear-bleeding intensity. From there on in it's firmly into the fast lane, hitching a ride on Turner's distorted bass juggernaut as the more laidback Hayes and moody-looking drummer Nick Jago crank up the volume and kick out the manifesto on love, drugs, religion, music, and politics.
When you get the odd chance to think, and it's not easy with that jet-engine sound melting your brain, you notice that the lights aren't as dark as you would expect, but the Jesus and Mary Chain fantasies are being replaced by something more their own. Could it be that Black Rebel are finally coming out of the shadows, more fully formed than we even dared to hope?
The intensity with which they play newer material makes the likes of 'Love Burns' seem practically lightweight in comparison, but unsurprisingly it's 'Whatever Happened to my Rock'n'Roll' that provokes the biggest mosh of the night, although by now we know that they've got plenty more anthems where that came from.
They finish with the album closers from their two records, a positively redemptive and spiritualized 'Salvation' transforming into a blistering 'Heart and Soul' drone out that ends the night with a suitably sonic head-f**k.
They've survived being tagged the unavoidable fashion of the day and become more vital than ever - how many of the current buzz bands will we be able to say that about in two years time?