A night of surprises at one of Glasgow’s most revered institutions.
What’s the Score?
“There’s the lights!”, I exclaimed to my pal as we tried to find one of Glasgow’s most iconic independent venues from the drab scenery of Duke Street. Something was in the air tonight. We were anticipating what seemed like a once in a lifetime experience.
We were going to see a band that stormed through the years like a wrecking ball, tearing through the lines of obscurity and cult acclaim. It was the fucking Brian Jonestown Massacre! Finally we arrived. Standing in front of the bright neon lights that hadn’t lost their spark in over 50 years, we were ready. It was time to go in.
I didn’t have any expectations for the first act. “They usually don’t even have a support!”, a friend sulked to us in a chance meeting. I was waiting for some Paul Weller wannabees to grace the stage to give us their best impression of, ‘The Jam’s’, greatest hits but with this being the Barrowlands, I should have known there’d be a few surprises along the way. “Is that… He’s a fucking magician!”, I heard someone say in disbelief and indeed it was! Adorned in Fred Perry and sporting a bold as brass Cockney accent, yer man dealt with a crowd, that wasn’t always hospitable to tricks, with grace, charm and wit.
Acting like Del Boy giving a sales pitch down the market, (which was very appropriate for The Barras), ‘Magic Mod’, made bottles disappear, constructed an endless deck out of 6 cards and for his final trick, even picked out a person from the crowd’s seven of clubs, out of a live bear trap! A modest man (pardon the pun), ‘Magic Mod’, warmed the crowd with stories of how he became interested in magic and even dedicated one of his tricks involving a colouring book, to his son. ‘Magic Mod’, expressed his gratitude to the people watching him and always let the crowd know what an honour it was to be here and by the end of the act, having entertained the crowd with jokes, magic and humility, even the drunks couldn’t find it in them to give anything but cheers and applause.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
As an Australian recommended I go to Albania (a place I’d never heard of till five minutes before), the lights went down. As the band took the stage it was funny trying to spot which one was Anton. All of them looked like old, sun-scorched, burn outs who weren’t estranged to glasses, cowboy hats and looking cool as f#ck. Armed with three guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and a synth man, the band burst into life. The ‘B.J.M’, sounded cosmic with their classic wall of guitar sound-scape starting the set with new songs, ‘#1 Lucky Kitty’ and ‘The Real’.
However, it wasn’t soon till the cracks shone through this interstellar undulation of harmony. It turned out that in thirty years the band hadn’t been much calmed by the wisdom that age should bring. The set was littered with squabbles, outbursts and tantrums. Some of my personal favourites being when Joel and Anton fought over the colour of the lights, Anton giving an incoherent rant over getting snot on his carpet that he claimed to have brought himself (the carpet by the way, not the snot!) and the general rage he directed at the Synth player all through the entire show. Anton was the non-funny egoist who through his intoxication, failed to understand people were not laughing with him but at him…
Despite this antagonising the crowd, constant re-starts of tunes, elaborate switches of guitars and breaks between songs (I went to the toilet halfway through it and when I came back, the band were still tuning up!), there was a light shining through all this: the songs! When these guy’s played, they played! ‘Anemone’, was a special moment. Enchanting the crowd with its hypnotic chord turn arounds and killer guitar lines. Near the tail end of the set I broke off and ran to the front as, ‘Servo’, begun. The pits were pulsating with energy.
Looking up, from the violent but happy clump of bodies mashed together, I took in these jaded Californian anarchists that were ripping into the heart of rock and roll. I couldn’t believe it. Thirty years later and the, ‘Brian Jonestown Massacre’, still could orchestrate the passion and violence of youth with their soundtrack of trippy, intergalactic, sixties, space-punk. All the messing around was worth it in this moment and I felt lucky to be there. On this note the band played their last two songs and tore the venue apart!
Wrapping It All Up
As the lights went up, the band looked like they hadn’t had a shower since the first album and I smelled like it. Me and my friend reconnected and on the way home we poked fun of Anton, mimicking his whinny, pointless demands but inbetween these impressions was a silence. A silence that stood as a shared sign of respect for a band who never really changed and with botched but brilliant performances like that, who would ever want them to?
Make sure to check them out if you haven’t heard of them. You’ll be in for a trip!