Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Pyramids, Portsmouth (02/12/2010)
Jim Pusey | Saturday, 04 December 2010
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's arrival in Portsmouth, for the first of their current UK dates supporting self-released sixth album Beat The Devil's Tattoo, was somewhat overshadowed by snow-related chaos in the city.
It didn't take the band long to warm up though, despite a lukewarm reception for support act The Duke Spirit, set opener '66 Conducer' brimmed with menace. Peter Hayes stood at the front of the low stage with minimal light used to illuminate him. As the familiar licks of 'Red Eyes And Tears' (from BRMC's eponymous decade old debut) engulfed the room in a wall of sound, a giddying array of strobe lighting was unleashed.
Ultimately BRMC aren't style over substance, as some of their contemporaries from the early 2000s have turned out to be. Their stage presence and dress sense may seem a little stylised at times, but the shared vocals between songs by Hayes and fellow guitarist/bassist Robert Levon Been reveal a very serious rock and roll band eager to play to a crowd.
This duality also inhabits their set list, as blistering riffs gave way to an acoustic set half way through the evening. One of BRMC's favoured covers (The Pogues' 'Dirty Old Town') ushered in a short compilation of material from third album Howl. No less accomplished than the rest of the show, this pause for breath illustrated why BRMC aren't a one trick pony.
Hayes, Been and Raveonettes' drummer Leah Shapiro were also faced with a gig beset by problems, aside from the weather. But like true professionals they carried on regardless when power dropouts in parts of the city temporarily cut the lights and then later the sound. The audience, which had up to this point been lacking in energy, sprang to life to use mobile phones as temporary lighting in the blackened venue. Then when the speakers suddenly cut out for less than a minute during 'Like The Rose' the crowd filled the gap, as a chorus of voices mimicked the now silent guitars.
The reduced number of punters in the building, due to the cold conditions, didn't help the atmosphere, with BRMC occasionally visibly frustrated. However as 'Shadow's Keeper' brought the encore to a thunderous crescendo of sound and strobes, no one in the room would have regretted the price of entry.