I decided to rewrite my review of the BRMC show at the Wiltern for the Losing Today website. It’s a combination of the Marquee and Wiltern reviews that I posted in the tour archive.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, HT Heartache @ The Wiltern on May 8, 2007
Took Out A Loan
Spread Your Love
Lien On Your Dreams
Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll
Weapon Of Choice
Red Eyes And Tears
Not What You Wanted
Need Some Air
Ain’t No Easy Way
All You Do Is Talk
The stage was really high – like 5 feet tall at least. Unlike the previous 2 shows, there was another opener named HT Heartache. She was like a country folk singer with a warbly voice. She really seemed out of place at this show. The audience politely applauded all her songs, though most people didn’t seem too into it.
The Black Angels were really good, with the full line up of 6 members on stage that day. Their sound was kind of psychedelic and hypnotic with a dark, atmospheric edge. They are deinitely influenced by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, since the guitarist had a guitar with BJM stickers on it. I enjoyed the sitar-like guitars and cavernous sounding drums and bass. The Black Angels were more warmly received with their ’60’s inspired sounds of echoing guitars and dynamic drumming. Watching them perform is always a treat. Their songs “Black Grease” and “First Vietnam War” are instantly memorable and powerful. There was some video footage behind them that looked pretty interesting.
BRMC played an excellent set throughout the night with no waiting for an encore. “Took Out A Loan” started the show as it does the new album and was well-received by the audience with lots of cheering and excitement. During the middle of it, it has kind of a false ending which continues with lots of white strobe lights reminding me of when they play “White Palms.” Soon after BRMC entered the stage area, Robert Levon Been (the bassist/singer) said that this was their largest North American show yet and they were glad that it was in their hometown. Even Nick Jago (the drummer) seemed more into performing on the drums and actually smiled a few times near the end of the show. The setlist didn’t change much from San Diego, with the addition of Stop – which was nice to hear again.
Next, was “Berlin” which was already a very familiar and exciting live song, I definitely see it as the next single. The rest of the set was full of new songs from Baby 81, including “Lien on Your Dreams,” “Not What You Wanted,” and of course “Weapon of Choice.” The piano on the stage was put to good use with the live debut of “Window” and then “Promise” right after it. “Need Some Air” and “American X” features Peter on bass and Robert on lead guitar. “Need Some Air” is a very cool live song with Spike and Peter providing some amusing “whoa oo oo’s” at the end. “American X” has a lot of space in it that reminds me of “Riders on the Storm,” and it was a welcome addition to the set. “Spread Your Love” and “Whatever Happened to My Rock n’ Roll” are live favorites which seem to be permanent parts of the setlist.
They played “Red Eyes and Tears,” which is always well-received. Near the middle/end of “Took Out a Loan” (the show opener), Been added some lyrics which I usually can’t hear. “666 Conducer” has been consistently amazing to see and hear live because of the grooving bass line that Been played almost entirely on his knees. Robert was especially into the performance, moving to the edge of the stage quite a few times. Even Peter seems to enjoy watching that. There was more time for applause before the encore started. Peter Hayes played “Fault Line” and “Devil’s Waitin’,” during which he forgot a line and had the audience singing along to fill it in. Then, Robert came out for “Mercy” and had the house lights turned down.
During Howl, Peter Hayes (guitarist/singer) is playing his keyboard more facing the audience with a black drapery covering the front of it. I guess it’s better than having his back to the audience, though I don’t understand what the covering is for. The rest of the band came on and during “Ain’t No Easy Way,” Robert threw his tamborine into audience. However, this was not the most exciting thing he gave to the audience. The final song of the night was the lovely “All You Do Is Talk,” which starts off slowly and builds to a powerfully stirring chorus. It was a lovely way to end the show. At the end of “All You Do Is Talk,” he unplugged the Epiphone bass guitar he was playing and handed it to the audience. And people went nuts for it. I think there was some punching by the girl who ended up with it. The security had to break it up a little.