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Live: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ Wiltern

Peter_wiltern_2ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY LIANE CHAN

MARCH 30 | LOS ANGELES—After one of the longest world tours they’ve ever played in 2007, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club continues on their quest for world domination with their current tour. It started a few days ago in Arizona and stretches as far as Buenos Aires, Argentina and Moscow, Russia. Their loyal fans (myself included) follow them overseas and to different states, but the hometown crowd is the one they always play their best for in my opinion. Case in point: They tore up the stage at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, playing a mix of B-sides, singles, classic tracks and a new song. They even closed the show with a 10+ minute jam with their friends and admirers The Black Angels.

The show opener was local band Lower Heaven, whose sound is really exemplified by their name. The lead singer even played an autoharp for the entire set, which was an interesting sight to see. The Black Angels came on soon after and really rocked the house with their new songs from soon-to-be-released second album Directions to See a Ghost. They also mixed in a few older favorites, such as “Black Grease” from their debut album Passover. They occasionally switched their instruments, with one of the guitarists moving to bass while the bassist played a standing drum. Overall The Black Angels played a consistently strong set of dynamic psychedelic rock.

Signs of a Black Angels/BRMC jam were hinted at when The Black Angels left their amps on the stage in front of the drum kit right before BRMC came on. Soon after, a large black banner from BRMC’s second album, Take Them On, On Your Own, was lowered behind the drums, and then Black Rebel Motorcycle Club took the stage. They opened the show with the bass-heavy, falsetto-laden B-side “The Likes of You,” which features a repetition of the lyrics “I ain’t ever seen the likes of you before.”

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They went right into “Spread Your Love,” a staple for any live BRMC show. Bassist/singer Robert Levon Been leaned over the edge of the stage during many songs, including the rock anthem “Whatever Happened to My Rock ’n Roll?,” during which guitarist/singer Peter Hayes gleefully snatched at and actually took a couple of fans’ cameras. Of course, he returned them at the end of the song.

Other pleasant set list additions were the B-sides “20 Hours” and “Vision,” both available on the American X EP released last December. “Cold Wind” from BRMC’s fourth album Baby 81 (named by drummer Nick Jago after the 81st survivor admitted to the hospital after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake) was a breath of fresh air since it is rarely performed live. Robert introduced a new song called “River Styx,” which was a swampy bluegrass style song with an opening riff reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”

The encore included the “Howl Sessions” B-side “Steal A Ride,” a fast, rockabilly-style romp that featured Wic, the bass and drum tech, lending a hand on guitar. The closing song was “Heart + Soul,” which Robert said they’d try to stretch out to a couple more songs. With the help of The Black Angels joining them on stage, BRMC jammed for at least 10 minutes. At the end, the band members exchanged hugs, and Robert tossed his microphone into the crowd.

Set List:
Peter_silhouette_wiltern_2The Likes of You
Spread Your Love
Killing the Light
Love Burns
20 Hours
Shuffle Your Feet
Berlin
Ain’t No Easy Way
Weapon of Choice
Vision
Howl
Mercy
Window
666 Conducer
Cold Wind
River Styx
Six Barrel Shotgun
Punk Song
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All You Do is Talk
Steal a Ride
Heart And Soul