Liverpool’s camp and furnace played host to the Brian Jonestown massacre on Saturday night, Chaos and genius in equal measure. As I make my way to the entrance I just get that feeling that something is going to go off, in a good way. A sense of anarchy and disorder, which I suppose can be expected when you consider the band’s past and the antics of colourful frontman Anton Newcombe. Wading through a crowd with an age range of teenagers to pensioners, skinheads, bowl cuts and perms, this crowd does not discriminate.
My ears are now excited with the swirling harmonies coming from the support act, The Soundcarriers. I only caught their last few tracks, but the male and female vocals drenched in the psychedelic waves, smoothly takes us into anticipation of the main event.
The crowd is now filling to capacity and the room is closing in. The lights go down slightly to a rapturous applause as we see movement on stage. We are witnessing a legendary band right here and now, the wait is over. I am instantly drawn to the four guitarists battling together on stage in glorious fashion, awash with drones and a wall of euphoria, this is fucking beautiful. Anton’s presence is felt immediately, his arrogance and confidence resonates from the start. Dressed in denim and a feathered fedora, commanding respect, the crowd obliged and hang off his every word.
Though BJMs sound has evolved, that backdrop of 60s psychedelic rock and roll remains throughout. Mixing songs from their most recent album ‘The Future Is Your Past’ and as far back as 90s classic ‘Their Satanic Majesties Second Request’. A back catalogue of gems from one of the hardest working bands in the business. However the night does not all go as planned, maybe due to Newcombe’s perfectionist attitude and demands on the band. Long periods of tuning guitars and breaks between songs seem to leave the crowd a little agitated. This continues throughout the set and after someone in the crowd shouts out ‘freebird’, Anton responds in classic fashion by shouting ‘why the fuck would we play freebird mother fucker?’ I had a glimmer of hope then, that we might see some of the legendary onstage battles and bring the crowd’s mood back up, but it didn’t happen. Not that I am inciting violence at all. I can however recommend the 2004 film/documentary ‘Dig!’ in which you will get to see the band and the fights in all their glory.
Around 10:30 pm all is forgiven as Anton sings ‘You should be picking me up, instead you’re dragging me down’. The guitars ring out and vocals soar above the crowd as ‘Anemone’ cleanses my soul, I’m back in the room but in another dimension I’m sure. This pure classic made everything right, anything before and after didn’t matter.
As I walk through the sea of plastic cups, with the guitars drone fading away, I’m left thinking ‘what the fuck just happened?’. Flashes of brilliance and moments of confusion, arrogance and ignorance. What else did I expect from one of the most dysfunctional, glorious bands with the most fantastically unhinged frontman? Oh yes, Joel Gion still plays the fucking tambourine for a living.