Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - 'Live In Paris' (Abstract Dragon) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Monday, 11 May 2015 03:00

BRMCpariscoverBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club really shouldn't need much of an introduction on these pages. The Los Angeles three-piece have been releasing albums since the turn of the Century and 'Live In Paris' captures them a year into touring their last studio album, 'Specter At The Feast'. Recorded in front of a sell out crowd at the Theatre Trianon on 24th February 2014, the epic 'Live In Paris' comes lavishly packaged as a 3 disc CD/DVD.


Of course this being a review copy, I only have access to the audio which is a great shame as in addition to the double album and full concert DVD you also get the '33.3%' documentary film, shot by Yana Amur, that apparently shows a never before seen intimate side to the band. A quick search on YouTube will throw up several videos from the DVD and a trailer for '33.3%' to get a feel of what is there but it would've been nice to get the whole picture, as the documentary especially does seem like a great watch.


'Specter At The Feast' was written in tribute to Michael Been, band producer/engineer and father of frontman Robert Levon Been, who tragically died of a heart attack backstage at a festival after the band's set in 2010. The first disc sees the band play the album in its entirety and in sequence.


There is a sombre, almost mournful mood throughout the whole of this live version of the album, yet it's far from dull and boring, in fact it comes over with a real intensity. Brooding opening track 'Fire Walker' builds nicely, its cinematic feel a perfect introduction. It almost melts into the hypnotic tribal groove of 'Let The Day Begin', a cover of the 1989 single by The Call (Robert Been's father was the singer/bassist in The Call). The band make this song their own, with Peter Hayes' trademark guitars coming on like Billy Duffy pre-'Electric', love it.


'Returning' evokes early U2 and captures raw emotion laid bare in the dark and beautiful surroundings of this ancient French theatre, in truth it sounds utterly spellbinding. While the more upbeat 'Rival' and 'Teenage Disease' harks back to the BRMC of old, it's the mellower tracks like 'Lullaby' and 'Returning' that really shine here.


Frontman Robert Been's polite between song banter is kept minimal between the feedback, reverb and brooding bass lines. It's dark stuff indeed, but we all like a bit of that, right?
Disc 2 sees the band dip into the back catalogue, opening with the excellent blues stomp of 'Beat The Devil's Tattoo' from the album of the same name, a great whiskey-soaked stomp through 'No Easy Way' is another highlight. Pretty much all of their albums are covered here, there's something for every fan.


I don't know if it's just me but this second disc has a completely different vibe to the first one. It's like they exorcised the demons playing 'Specter..' from start to finish and now playing the back catalogue seems like a breeze for band and audience alike.


It's been a long time since I listened to the debut album from BRMC, but fuck me these songs still sound great. 'Spread Your Love' will always be a killer live track and the obligatory 'Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll' closes the show in all its raw, fuzzed-up glory. These two tracks bookend a couple of 'Howl' era songs: 'Mercy' and 'Shuffle Your Feet', stripped down and acoustic sound great here.


In all its dark and brooding surroundings 'Live In Paris' veers from moments of mellow shoegazing to raw and anthemic garage rock 'n' roll power, yet it all sounds quite intense and sort of on edge. I feel I really need to watch the award winning DVD footage and delve into the documentary, so I will be hitting that pre-order button for this one.


Live albums can be hit or miss affairs, some of my favourite bands have disappointed with their live albums. At 25 tracks in length it might be a bit overpowering for the casual fan but 'Live In Paris' captures an enigmatic performance by a band that people don't really know a lot about and for that alone it really deserves your attention.


To pick up your copy of 'Live In Paris' - CLICK HERE