Music is normally reviewed with all the impartiality of a Stalinist show trial. But even with this in mind the odds were particularly stacked in Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s favour – one of rock’s best and brightest playing on a balmy summer evening in the idyllic surroundings of Somerset House. Bukharin’s conviction seemed assured, to coin a phrase.
Somerset House’s summer series has already played host to the likes of Kasabian, Mika and Lily Allen – Vodafone clearly not wanting O2 to have it all their own way with British music. BRMC add a touch of much needed rock to the agenda
Touring on the back of their brilliant third album, Baby 81, they were a treat, their grimy, seedy, screeching guitar filling the gaps in a venue which felt a little thin. “I took out a loan on my empty heart” groans Peter Hayes, mass of black hair covering his face. It would seem pretentious if it was anyone else but BRMC are just so cool – they could get away with murder, and more.
“You’re great” yelled someone behind me, “but you look a bit like Keane”. A bit harsh – in fact Hayes reminds me more of Benicio del Toro in Sin City. But they do have a keyboard. “What is your weapon of choice” they murmur and snarl at a loving crowd. Listening to BRMC feels like drinking whisky after being dumped – but the bitterness and rebellion twists its way out in a frenzied, gasping way. “Now she’s gone and love burns inside me”. All credit to her – would they exist if she had stayed?
Festivals can generate odd feelings sometimes – large crowds, sure, but not everyone is necessarily really that bothered about the act, there with a friend or waiting to see something else. Despite BRMC being the only thing on show Somerset House still had this kind of vague, festival like feeling – perhaps credit to the organisers for not packing it to the rafters. Plenty of room to stand and appreciate though, and, drilling my way through amusingly expensive Tuborg as the sun set over the Thames, I began to wonder why they dont do this more often. Great stuff – let all those who disagree be purged.