The evening starts with a poem. A short piece that, forgive the romantic in me, channels the vibe of Ginsberg and beautifully set’s the tone for tonight’s ‘happening’. I say happening because the Brian Jonestown Massacre are far from just another band, and with the promise of a three hour set, its fair to say, this is more than just a gig…
The distinguishable figure of Anton Newcombe, mutton chops, dark glasses, and an abundance of neckwear, takes his place stage left. A position that affords him a clear view of his musical cohorts, and with the minimal amount of pomp or ceremony, the evenings proceedings commence with “Never Ever”. In an instant the rain wet streets outside the venue are gone and we’re swept away to a far better place.
It’s clear from the off that each and everyone on stage has their own place. Occasionally, Colin, Joel and Anton come together, and on one occasion Joel makes a short foray into Ricky Myami’s quarter to “…experience the standard psych band tambourine players position.” Which he didn’t like “…So I’m leaving it for the jerks!” But for the main each and everyone holds their ground. Everyone in the right place. No outrageous stage antics.No false posturing. No gimmicks. Just the real deal. Which is exactly what we wanted.
A request from the stage asks “Can we turn the lights red? Make it look like an opium den?” or as Gion would prefer “A strip club“. From there on in the stage is bathed in swathes of red light and pumped with an ever increasing amount of smoke, that might not have the potency of the illicit poppy, but does add a little something to make the whole affair slightly more intoxicating.
Part of the BJM appeal is the way they seem to effortlessly connect with their audience, and not just to berate people for asking for requests. Breaks between songs allow for Anton to engage with people, tell the odd tale – like the time the band watched Moby Dick on the tour bus after feasting on mushrooms. Or to explain the meaning, or meanings behind ‘Government Beard’ – It all makes things a bit more intimate, and whole lot more personal.
Time flies in mysterious ways, and as the band bring the evening to a close with a raucous rendition of “Yeah Yeah” it seems like we’ve only be here for moments, but equally feels like we’ve been here forever. Three hours is a long time for a band to be on stage. Did they play everything we wanted them to? Quite probably. No one was heard complaining ‘They didn’t play ####.‘ or ‘I wish they’d done ####.‘ Was it enough? Yes. Could we have taken anymore? Again yes.
As I said at the beginning, the Brian Jonestown Massacre are far from just a band, tonight was far from just a gig. Believe the hype. Tonight seemed like a celebration, one of those ‘happenings’ that will be talked about long into the night for many nights to come.
Words & pics by stAn – see more photos from the Brian Jonestown Massacre by clicking HERE