The last time that I saw Brian Jonestown Massacre they were somewhat tetchy to say the least, grumbling about the poor quality of the pharmaceuticals and tour buses on offer in the UK. However, on this occasion they had a reasonably impressive bus and, judging by their mood, had either cleaned up or scored some really great gear for this tour!
Anyway, we had learned from Anton during the day that the support band had bailed on account of injury, and that we were to show up at 2000 sharp for an extra-long set from BJM. As much fun as seeing a long show was, there was disappointment, too, on account of missing one of the typically excellent bands that get chosen for BJM support slots, but I guess you win some you lose some, huh?
I’d dearly love to tell you what was played, but I must confess to having been totally mesmerised from the moment they came onstage to the moment they left, so compelling was the performance. The band got into their stride quickly and did battle with the dubious, muddy sound until that was satisfactorily tweaked after twenty minutes or so.
It wasn’t until I wandered out to the bar for a supplies that it became apparent that the venue was pretty much full with an interesting mix of folks, young and old. Absent were the aggressive looking for a Dig! moment, which meant that the band could get stuck into their extensive and impressive back catalogue free of distractions. Joel Gion’s feigned insouuciance and precise timing on the tambourine was an excellent metaphor for the band who, while seemingly not giving a stuff, made it clear with their consumate professionalism and impressive stamina that they are the real deal if you’ll just let them play.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were dancing, which sounds like an odd thing to say about a gig, but sadly reflects the number of shows I attend where people stand around looking bored or uncomfortable. The response between songs was suitably impressive too and Anton was in fine form until I hollered out for ‘Hide And Seek’, when he proceeded to tell everyone that BJM ‘don’t do requests’ and ramble on for few minutes; I get that all their songs are great, and that they get to choose the setlist, but I will never have heard enough of that song, and I really need to hear it live!
Regarding the venue, it was my first visit to Engine Rooms and I have to say that, like 1865, it is a nice small-to-mediun sized hall, contrary to its somewhat dubious outward appearance which doubtless derives from its location in a trading estate. That said the sound was relatively poor compared to other venues I have visited recently, and they could definitely do with sorting that out. The predominantly red lighting was a bit of a challenge for my flash-free photography too, and the quality of the images that resulted from my efforts to capture a visual record of the show were diappointing.
Terrifiyingly for my wallet, the merch stall was incredibly well stocked, and that I came away with only a copy of Methodrone plus the latest 10″ single, Bout Des Doigts, is a sign of my strength of will (and decrepit finances).
Overall I had a great night, as did my BJM-newbie friend, who went away suitably impressed.