First of all the Mission Beach area of San Diego is an excellent place to visit. Not only was there free parking (a rarity in Los Angeles), there was also giant pizza slices, a nice beach, amusement park rides, and some interesting shops and outdoor vendors. Cane’s Bar and Grill was a nice intimate venue to see these two amazing bands (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Spiritualized) in concert. However, the first thing I noticed is how tall Spiritualized and BRMC fans and well-wishers are… and most of these people did not notice that the vertically challenged could not see through them. Otherwise, the show was very enjoyable, if not extremely long due to Spiritualized signature soaringly epic performance (just under 2 hours!).
The music of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was energetic, racous, noisy, and beautiful at times, and did not even seem too loud. The band was very animated on stage and often stepped back out of the smoky red and blue lights when switching off vocals or to play intricate guitar or bass lines. Because of the tall people in front of me for most of the time, I could barely see drummer Nick Jago pounding away on the drums, though on occasion I could see his dark curtain of hair covering his face. Mysteriously aloof guitarist/singer Peter Hayes and performer extrordinaire Robert Turner on bass/vocals would occasionally mumble a “Thank you” to the audience between songs, but their music and lyrics said more than any words could.
They opened with their current UK single “Spread Your Love,” a real rocker. They continued their noisy rock assault with “White Palms,” a song very reminiscent of the Jesus & Mary Chain, and “Rifles” with spiky guitar riffs and feedback. They played their two US radio singles “Love Burns,” somewhat uplifting after the last two songs, and “Whatever Happened to My Rock’n Roll (Punk Song),” which added to the built up excitement from the last song and was well-received by the crowd. “Awake” was beautiful as usual despite some sound problems. They ended their set with “Kill the US Government” and a new song called “Stop,” which featured some slide guitar which added to the already hypnotically beautiful noise.
Spiritualized featured a new eight piece band with lead Spaceman Jason Pierce off to the right side of the stage, next to the keyboardist, bassist and drummer on the center stage, slide guitarist/harmonica player, another guitarist, and xylophone player. They played an amazing set of new and old songs including some Spacemen 3. The music was dirge-like, droning and full of gorgeous atmospheric feedback at times, and fast and noisy at others.
They opened with “Electricity,” probably their fastest and noisiest song of the night with “Come Together” slowing things down a bit to the next song “Shine a Light,” which was well-matched by the blue, green, and occasionally radiating white lights. They played some of my favorites “Walking with Jesus,” “Electric Mainline,” “I think i’m in love” and a seemingly extended version of “Medication,” a combination of their noisiest and most soaringly lovely songs. “Broken Heart” featured the bluesy harmonica sound of the new guitarist.
Half the audience must have left before they finished their set, though I did see Robert of BRMC enjoying the show. Spiritualized came back for a one song encore, which actually may have been too much – considering how drained they might have been after playing for the first hour and a half, not to mention the audience!