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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, and Lower Heaven @ The Wiltern 3-30-08

After one of the longest world tours they’ve ever played in 2007, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club continue on their quest for world domination with their current tour. It started in Arizona and stretches as far as Buenos Aires, Argentina and Moscow, Russia. Their loyal fans (myself included) follow them from overseas and to different states, but the hometown crowd is one they always play their best for. Case in point, they tore up the stage at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, playing a mix of b-sides, singles, classic tracks, and a new song. They even closed the show with a 10+ minute jam with their friends and admirers, The Black Angels.

The show opener was the local band Lower Heaven, whose sound is really exemplified by their name. The lead singer even played an autoharp for the entire set, which was an interesting sight to see. The Black Angels came on soon after and really rocked the house with their new songs from soon to be released 2nd album Directions to See a Ghost. They mixed in a few older favorites, like “Black Grease” from the debut album Passover. They occasionally switched off on instruments, with one of the guitarists moving to bass while the bassist played a standing drum. The Black Angels played a consistently strong set of dynamic psychedelic rock.

Signs of the jam with the Black Angels was hinted by them leaving piles of amps on the stage in front of the drum kit right before BRMC came on. Soon after a large black banner from their 2nd album “Take Them On, On Your Own” was lowered behind the drums, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club entered the stage. They opened the show with the bass heavy falsetto laden b-side “The Likes of You,” which features a repetition of the lyrics “I ain’t ever seen the likes of you before.”

They went right into the single “Spread Your Love,” a live staple for any live BRMC show. Bassist/singer Robert Levon Been leaned over to the edge of the stage during many songs, including the rock anthem “Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n Roll?” during which guitarist/singer Peter Hayes gleefully snatched at and actually took a couple fan’s cameras. Of course, he returned them at the end of the song.

Other pleasant set list additions were the b-sides “20 Hours” and “Vision,” both available on the American X EP released last December. “Cold Wind” from BRMC’s 4th album Baby 81 (named by drummer Nick Jago after the 81st survivor admitted to the hospital after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake) was a breath of fresh air since it rarely seems to be played live. Robert introduced a new song called “River Styx,” which was a swampy bluegrass style song with an opening riff reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”

The encore included the Howl Sessions b-side “Steal A Ride,” a fast rockabilly style romp which featured Wic, the bass and drum tech lending a hand on guitar. The closing song from the set list was “Heart + Soul,” which Robert said they’d try to stretch out to a couple more songs. With the help of the Black Angels joining them on stage, they jammed for a good 10 minutes at least. At the end, the band members exchanged hugs and Robert tossed his mike into the crowd. More photos here.


The setlist:

The Likes of You
Spread Your Love
Killing the Light
Love Burns
20 Hours
Shuffle Your Feet
Ain’t No Easy Way
Weapon of Choice
666 Conducer
Cold Wind
River Styx
Six Barrel Shotgun
Punk Song
All You Do is Talk
Steal a Ride
Heart And Soul

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