It takes a certain level of craft and ingenuity to stay afloat in today’s music industry, where you can fall just as quickly as you can rise. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are part of a select group that has ripened perfectly with age.
Rip-roaring riffs aplenty, the group’s appearance in Nottingham marks over 2 years since they last performed in the city and their return is met with unified delight. With a crowd that suggested those in attendance have been firm followers since the group’s formation in the early 00’s, the tone was set early on for a night of contained enjoyment; a world away from the chaotic thrashing that is commonly associated with BRMC shows.
The trio now carry all the tell-tale signs of accomplished performers and their sleek stage presence goes hand-in-hand with their now trademark sound; dirty, grease-laden riffs with hooks that just keep you wanting a second helping. The band showcase 2009’s ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ as an early teaser, a slow burner that evolves into a wall of noise; a certified toe-tapper. Peter Hayes proceeds to pace around the stage, whereas Robert Levon Been is no stranger to crowd interaction and can often be seen in a more animated state, one which would be expected given the heavy-hitting style that the trio convey. Drummer Leah Shapiro may be hidden away in shrouds of smoke, however her presence is felt via intense but perfectly assembled percussive arrangements.
Crowd interaction is kept to a minimum as the band test the waters with new material, as they surge through a mammoth 23 song set. The audience is greeted with dark, scuzzy sounds and while it doesn’t largely maintain some of the more up-beat tempo of firm fan favourites, it would appear to be material that is a lot more reflective of where the group is currently at, on an emotional and musical level.
Solo acoustic performances of ‘Sympathetic Noose’ and “Devil’s Waitin” performed by Been and Hayes are softer points to break up the abrasive set, adding a smoother dimension to what’s otherwise an eclectic 2 hours. The only spoiler was the crowd’s inability to remain quiet during these performances, which reduced some of the mystique in the stripped back songs; nonetheless, a much appreciated variation.
The conclusion of the set saw the release of snarling cult anthems ‘Spread Your Love’ and ‘Six Barrell Shotgun’, the latter being one of those timeless classics that will never lose any of its bite no matter how many times it’s played. BRMC may no longer be the frontrunners in the guitar scene, however they carry with them a legacy that will see them forever revered as pioneers for modern guitar music, with many artists citing their unique sound as as huge creative influence. Nottingham’s show was a firm reminder however that there’s still plenty left in the tank and 2018 is sure to boost their stock once more.