LIVE: The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Liverpool Academy
Since we last caught The BJM on the live stage two years ago there has been a little bit of trademark jiggery pokery regarding the lineup – including another departure by Matt Hollywood.
But let’s face it, incessantly productive frontman Anton Newcombe has spent more than two decades reforming, regrouping and remoulding the project. What’s more, every time it returns we’re gripped with intrigue.
Following the release of a brand new single ‘Fingerprints’ last week, the band embarked on a UK tour that is treating fans to their money’s worth and more in the shape of a sprawling three-hour set without an interval.
Having seen their DIG! counterparts The Dandy Warhols at Liverpool Sound City a couple of weeks ago, the picture was one of a band still completely capable on a technical level, but going through the motions when it comes to creativity.
The complete opposite is true of The BJM. Perhaps this is indeed due to the constant freshening up of the band, with Newcombe having had the chance to tap into the psyches of a host of different musicians over the years.
It truly is a career-spanning marathon of an evening. ‘Who?’ and ‘Anemone’ take us back to the 90s and demonstrate why a majority of the current onslaught of psych whipper-snappers really are light years behind.
But the seamlessness with which more recent material stands up against the classics cannot be underestimated either. ‘Vad Hande Med Dem’ from the 2014 Berlin-spawned album Aufheben is a highlight from the early point of the set.
In a flashback to the uncomfortably tense atmosphere that characterised gigs during The BJM’s more volatile days, there is an exchange of displeasure between Newcombe and some lairy bloke we can’t quite make out down the front of the pitch black venue. Whatever it is that has gone on, Anton simply brands him “the biggest dick head in town” and moves swiftly on.
As might be expected with such a bumper occasion, this is The BJM at both their most expansive and encapsulating. Jangly blues-rock seeps into sitar-fuelled psychedelia without a single ounce of pretence. It’s all natural.
Tracks such as ‘Servo’ and ‘The Devil May Care (Mom and Dad Don’t)’ come across as particular crowd-pleasers as the night goes on, but this really has been an occasion where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Too often sets so long risk stepping into self indulgence, but that just isn’t the case tonight.
Despite settling down on he hedonism while he’s off the stage, tonight has proved to Far Out that The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Anton Newcombe retain the same intensity that has marked them as a must-see live act for more than 20 years.
The tour rolls on… if you can then you should definitely be there. Check out the remaining dates below.