Houston Calling

REVIEW: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ The Meridian, 6.14.07

June 19th, 2007 · No Comments

Houston Calling was an “official tour guide” for the BRMC Baby 81 tour and while I couldn’t make the Houston show last week at The Meridian since I was out of the country on vacation, a long-time friend of mine, Brently, filled in for me at the show. It was his first time seeing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club live and also the first time he’d been to The Meridian.

Here is his account of the show:

I come from a generation older than most in attendance of last Thursday’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show; mine is the generation of stadium rock, where prissy, pissed-off rock stars cancel shows and incite riots for hang-nail reasons. In contrast, when BRMC drummer Nick Jago didn’t return to stage for the final third of the Houston show, veteran rockers Peter Hayes and Robert Been flashed their rock pedigree and soldiered on.

An approaching capacity crowd braved Houston’s notorious weather, where earlier in the evening up to five inches of rain had flooded parts of the city. As a reward, the gents of BRMC laid down a show that highlights why they are who they are: professional musicians. While I no longer see many concerts, I do often attend shows about the size of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and I am often punished by poor sound systems, technical difficulties, drunk and uninspired band members, etc. Not BRMC. They played like this was their first night of the tour: tight, almost flawless, and awe-inspiring. If you wonder what you pay your hard earned money for in concert tickets, these guys give the definition.

As previously mentioned, after the middle section of songs where Hayes and Been took turns soloing material, Been announced the drummer had taken ill and asked that we keep him in our thoughts. The crowd’s non-rioting reaction (sorry G’N’R fans) was rewarded with six more songs, including a cover of Marty Robbins’ 1959 hit “El Paso.” How California boys could effortlessly whip out “El Paso” is beyond me, but the crowd was eating out of their hands and singing along. The final three songs featured a member from opening band The Cobbs, sitting in for Jago. They played “Love Burns” and “Awake” from their self-titled first album, which shows the respect their tour mate has for the band, via his knowledge of their earlier works.

The Meridian is a standard warehouse-type venue with unassuming patrons looking for moderately priced drinks and loud music. As such, I was not surprised to see Been wandering the crowd pre-show and doing so virtual unnoticed. So is the life of Houston music.

Of the 23 songs played, two were unidentifiable to me, and one of those might have been something new — it was prefaced by Been that he would “play something new” for us during his two-song solo section. Whether he meant new material or merely different than the song he was about to start, I am unsure.

My highlight of the night was the band’s addition of “Am I Only,” which was originally not on BRMC’s set list, but I assume was added when Hayes and Been had to shuffle in Jago’s unexpected absence. As expected, it was an excellent performance and remains my favorite track on Baby 81.

I was impressed with the amount of songs from Howl, which provided a sound didactic for the more rocking songs of Baby 81. The ebb and flow kept the energy level at a sustainable level for most of the show (for both the band and the crowd).

As has been standard for the band’s previous shows on this tour, Hayes and Been shared vocal duties, swapping roles about every other song. It is almost unnoticeable since both possess such depth in musical skill, sharing guitar, bass, keyboard and vocal duties.

The two-hour set list in Houston included the following songs:

1. “Took Out A Loan” – from Baby 81
2. “Berlin” – from Baby 81
3. “Lien On Your Dreams” – from Baby 81
4. “In Like A Rose” – from BRMC
5. “Ain’t No Easy Way” – from Howl
6. “Weapon of Choice” – from Baby 81
7. “Punk Song (Whatever Happened to My Rock n’ Roll)” – from BRMC
8. “Windows” – from Baby 81
9. “Not What You Wanted” – from Baby 81
10. “666 Conducer” – from Baby 81
11. “Love Burns” – from BRMC (as listed on the set list from the band, but I seem to recall this being “Red Eyes and Tears”)
12. “Need Some Air” – from Baby 81
13. “American X” – from Baby 81
14. “Fault Line” – from Howl
15. “Devil’s Waitin” – from Howl
16. ?
17. ?
18. “Complicated Situation” – from Howl
19. “El Paso” – cover
20. “Am I Only” – from Baby 81
21. “Love Burns” – from BRMC
22. “Awake” – from BRMC
23. “Shuffle Your Feet” – from Howl

Again, I cannot stress enough how professional this show was, both in the quality of music and the quality of performance. It might speak to what we get used to in this world of ours, but Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are not settling for anything less than their best.

The band’s work ethic, which shines through in their recording history, was on display at the Houston show on Thursday. Four albums released in two-year intervals (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007) highlight a band that tours heavily to promote their material before retiring to create another brilliant album.

I highly suggest checking the band out live when they come to your town.

Visit Filter’s tour website for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club here. Visit BRMC online at www.blackrebelmotorcycleclub.com.

Buy their music here.

Tags: Music

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