Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 01/24/08

Key Club – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/

(Note: The review was first published by MTV news)

It takes a gang of bad asses to name their band after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in his 1953 film The Wild One. Thankfully, the three men who make up Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (often referred to as BRMC) are not only bad enough to fit the bill, but somehow tender enough that you could bring them home to your mother. Formed in 1998, BRMC is one of the few bands still waving the bad boy rock flag high in a day and age of disposable hip hop anthems and American Idol rejects selling out arenas. Yet somehow they don’t come off as a cheesy imitation rip off like Avenged Sevenfold. BRMC is the real deal. Hell, I think it’s safe to say that BRMC is the only straight up kick ass and take no prisoners Rock & Roll band left on the planet today. So imagine my shock and delight when on Christmas Eve when I found out that they would be playing an intimate club show at the Key Club right down the street from my home. Having had my head bashed in by seeing these guys live everywhere from the middle of Sunset Blvd to opening for legends “The Jesus & Mary Chain” at the Wiltern last fall I added another $70 to the American Dream known as my ever growing credit card debt and got two tickets for what I knew would be something special.

With the club beyond sold out, special VIP sections for corporate sponsors SPIN Magazine, Addidas & JVC filling up seconds before the band kicked into their set, Guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist Peter Hayes took the stage solo around 9:45 and played two numbers to a very appreciative crowd. Decked in a black leather jacket, his partner in crime, Guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist Robert Levon Been eventually joined Hayes along with Drummer Nick Jago for what would be a roller coaster 2+ hour set. The great thing about BRMC is the fact they can play everything from soft blues-esque acoustic rock to full on sonic assault feed back laced hollow body arena rock. Not only can they do this, they do so in such a way that you never know which way you are going next.

The show started out somewhat slow, with softer numbers such as Complicated Situation & Shuffle Your Feet from 2005’s Howl before drifting into fuzz rock distorted anthems like Berlin from last years Baby 81 record and Love Burns from their very first record BRMC. As rain leaked thru the roof of the Key Club onto the stage, the band were in total control of the crowd from the get go. BRMC truly has no single front man, as Hayes and Been switch back and forth not only vocal duties (when they are not harmonizing together) but switch back between Bass & Guitar (that is of course when one is not playing Piano on numbers like Promise or All You Do Is Talk). The second roller coaster build up of the night featured both a sinister version of 666 Conducer and Ain’t No Easy Way which featured Hayes on nasty slide guitar that made you wonder just how long ago these bad boys sold their soul to the devil for such a demonic (yet never ugly) sound that makes you think of everyone from The Verve to The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Hayes and Jago left the stage at one point and let Levon Been sing a few songs all alone. A pin drop could be heard thru the tightly packed club as he soulfully sung 2005’s Complicated Noose. After that, Levon Been lowered his microphone, sat on a monitor and informed the crowd it was time to get intimate with us. He explained how he had one cover in his back pocket, but was tired of it and decided to learn something harder. He then treated the crowd to Bob Dylan’s Vision of Johanna and as with every other things BRMC touched last night, it was sonically perfect.

The band soon rejoined him, and once again built us up to wrap up their set for the evening. American X is a warning shot to our nation that all should hear. Never shying away from political numbers questioning the actions of our government, and clocking in last night at over 10 minutes, BRMC had the crowd eating out of their hands with this massive set closer. As Levon Been’s hands rose up his fret board, strobe lights flickered at a fever pace; the energy of the crowd peaked much like an acid trip could. As the song wrapped, feedback rang thru the house monitors, the band left the stage victorious.

 After the typical 3-5 minutes of encore applause we have all grown to tolerate the band returned to beat our senses in just a little bit more. Took Out A Loan from last year’s Baby 81 record kicked off the encore with flash and feedback and forcing the crowd to stomp along in rhythm. For as much as I thought this song would blow off the already leaky roof, it was the last song of the night Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll [punk song] that made me realize all over again what I have known about BRMC for a few years now. BRMC are the savior of rock and roll. They may even be the best Rock & Roll band on the planet today. They make you want to drink whiskey, drive well over the posted speed limit, donate an hour to charity and kick over your neighbors trash cans just because you can. They are everything missing from today rock scene. They are the real deal.

A direct descendant of the outlaw Jesse James and star of a 1983 Kilpatricks Bread radio commercial, Reverend Justito has taken his gift of ADHD and put it to good use by creating one of a kind concert reviews. A bootlegger at heart, the man lives off Whiskey, Taco Bell and the love of San Francisco sports teams.
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Thursday, March 11th, 2010 at 10:29 pm.
Categories: Reviews.

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