It was a cold, snowy December night, a far cry from the balmy April date the postponed Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show should have been. Still, the anticipation and excitement had had another seven months to fester and grow. The journey to Rock City in Nottingham was trouble free despite the mountains of snow that had fallen over the previous few days. Once inside we noticed that the crowd was a little sparse, perhaps everyone was at home to avoid the weather or they were simply being safe and taking their time to get there? Those that had made it seemed to cover the entire spectrum of ages from the young through to the more mature, reinforcing the appeal of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
The support band The Duke Spirit took to the stage and crowd immediately doubled; perhaps everyone was huddled around the bars taking advantage of a warming alcoholic beverage! The Duke Spirit were a new band to us, we’d seen the name around but have never heard them. The alternative rock/soul quintet from London set about warming up the crowd with a sound that was reminiscent of late 80s, early 90s guitar bands My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Playing a mixture of tracks spanning their back catalogue, they managed to thaw out the crowd and get them moving. The Duke Spirit themselves seemed to warm up after a few tracks, with lead singer Liela Moss, in particular, producing an energetic display.
The stage now cleared, the BRMC drum kit revealed, the house lights dropped and the roar from the, now capacity, crowd nearly took the roof off Rock City! With no introductions and dimmed stage lights BRMC announced themselves by launching straight into the classic ‘666 Conducer’. The crowd lapped it up for the first couple of minutes until those technical gremlins raised their head… Peter Hayes amp gave up the ghost… However, in the ensuing silence Robert Levon Been picked up his acoustic guitar and treated the crowd to an impromptu rendition of ‘Sympathetic Noose’. The technical issues now resolved the set continued with ‘Stop’.
The set continued with ‘Weapon of Choice’ and ‘Bad Blood’ before the title track from the latest album ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ sent the crowd crazy. ‘Half-State’, ‘Red Eyes And Tear’ and ‘Mama Taught Me Better’ followed soon after, with ‘Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘N Roll [Punk Song]’ taking things up a notch or two and the crowd responding in kind with the first of the crowd surfers going over the barrier.
Things took a quieter turn then as the set drifted into acoustic territory, beginning with the cover of The Pogues classic, ‘Dirty Old Town, followed by ‘Complicated Situation’ and ‘The Toll’. The acoustic set now over it was back to the dirty rock with ‘Awake’ and ‘Long Way Down’ reanimating the crowd. ‘Ain’t No Easy Way’ and ‘Berlin’ quickly followed, as did the crowd surfers. The main set was rounded off with the future classic ‘Conscience Killer’ and the old classic ‘Six Barrel Shotgun’.
After a short break and a lot of B.R.M.C. chants; Robert Levon Been, Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro returned to the stage for the encore. The first track, ‘Spread Your Love’, set the crowd off again as more brave souls risked the wrath of the security guards by flying over the barrier on a sea of hands. Unfortunately, the gremlins in Hayes’ amp returned but thankfully it was a very short lived outage and they resumed the song where they’d left it moments before. The mammoth two hour show ended with ‘Shadow’s Keeper’ and despite the brief technical problems and the tricky weather conditions outside the show was a huge success, leaving the crowd well and truly satisfied with what they had witnessed.