Compiled from three European shows (Berlin, Dublin and Glasgow) over the course of six weeks in Autumn 2007, Live presents Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in support of Baby 81. The alternative rock trio of guitarist Peter Hayes, bassist Robert Been, and now former drummer Nick Jago deliver a smokin’, two-hour-plus, 22-song set filled with fuzzed-out garage rockers covering their entire discography as well as a few surprises.
In addition to the selections from all four B.R.M.C. albums, Been plays “Mercy” from Howl Sessions Vol. 2 on solo acoustic guitar and segues into a cover of “Dirty Old Town” made popular by The Dubliners and The Pogues. “Promise” finds Been moving from bass to piano in a debut of the arrangement. Hayes accompanies him on trombone. After the main set ends with the raucous “Whatever Happened To My Rock And Roll (Punk Song),” Hayes get his own time alone in the spotlight by beginning the encore on acoustic guitar and harmonica performing “Fault Line.” UK single B-side “The Show Is About To Begin” is a bit misleading slotted as the penultimate song of the night. After the credits, Hayes is solo again on “Am I Only,” likely at a soundcheck.
As the concert opens, there’s not a lot of color in the images as the band is no frills. On stage are just the essentials as they play under white lights, which put them in shadow and occasional darkness with the frequent strobe effect. With “Weight Of The World” some color begins to seep in, but it is desaturated.
Director Tessa Angus has to take the blame for the poor video presentation. The camera work has way too much movement, constant pans and zooms that give the appearance of a bunch of film students first learning how to use the equipment. It’s all cut together as a hurried pace throughout, and in combination with the stage lighting, it makes it difficult to see the guys actually playing. Luckily, the music more than up makes up for the visuals.
This energetic concert would be worth the purchase price alone, but Live also includes a second DVD filled with Bonus Features and a CD offering 14 songs from the concert film in a slightly different order.
The Bonus Features include four songs from the three concerts, two of which didn’t make the film’s setlist: “Need Some Air” and Head Up High.” Unfortunately there’s no “Play All” option. “Devils Waitin'” was recorded at Somerset House, London in July 2007. The audio is very poor. That same month at T in the Park Been and Hayes put on an impromptu performance of “Rifles” outside a tent for fans behind a chain-link fence. “‘Feel It Now’ Jam (Dublin)” shows Been and Hayes goofing around during a soundcheck. “Howl Studio Sessions” offers brief clips of the band “In The Studio” and recording three songs. Again why no “Play All”?
There is also promotional material. “Making of the ‘Weapon of Choice’ Video” is self-explanatory. Been and Hayes perform and are interviewed during “BBC Radio Sessions Birmingham.” Been talks about it being bittersweet when Jago rejoined them, which is made even more bittersweet now that he’s not a part of the group again. The short film “American X” was previously on the EP American X: Baby 81 Sessions.
Fans of B.R.M.C. and of rock ‘n’ roll should do themselves a favor and pick up this three-disc set to see and hear the band Live.