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LIVE REPORT: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Jack Taylor , July 11th, 2014 07:31

In Glasgow, Jack Taylor sees the the American psych rockers come full circle as they tour their fourteenth LP, Revelation. Photo by Laurent Breillat

Often compartmentalised by musical philistines as being one of the main pioneers of 60s revivalism, this objectification overlooks the post-modern elements that have helped define Anton Newcombe's three decade foray into Svengali soaked psychedelia. In one of the opening sequences of the now infamous Dig! there is an iconic image which captures the true majesty of Newcombe's creative manifesto, as he swaggers godlike down the street dressed in virginal white, unkempt sideburns aplenty while obligatory Elvis style shades furrow his brow. It's a captivating moment, one that truly reflects Newcombe's "man out of time" persona and sees him manifested somewhere between the annals of a hell-raising Dennis Wilson, the creative drive of Gram Parsons and the intimidating work ethic of Kevin Shields. Some people are simply a law unto themselves.

It's a testament to just how good The Brian Jonestown Massacre are that they have been able to transcend the mythical satire which served to overshadow their artistic output in the aforementioned documentary. A lesser artist would have crumbled under the weight of misconception, while an MTV corporate shakeup attempted to engage a rebellious youth demographic at the BJM's expense. Yet while Newcombe's tenacity and prolific nature seem to be part of his genetic make-up, he's worked tirelessly to innovate and subvert the form of a previously derivative scene of which he can now sit proudly among the apex.

Tonight's eagerly anticipated sold out show in Glasgow illustrates from the get-go that the hype surrounding the band's recent tour is well and truly justified. Showcasing tracks from their excellent new album Revelation, as well as their extensive back catalogue, the band instantly ingratiate with the distinctive low-fi tremors from Newcombe's guitar, something that recalls both the plaintive warmth of the Mamas And The Papas' 'California Dreamin'' horn solo, and the dream-like lilt of Spiritualized at their most ambient. With the ménage à trois of Anton Newcombe, percussionist-cum-frontman Joel Gion, and guitarist Matt Hollywood firmly back in the mix, the neo-psychedelic heavyweights come full circle, returning to the affectionately dysfunctional brotherly love that was previously a staple of some of their finest moments. The title Revelation is an insight perhaps into the almost sobering epiphany brought upon Newcombe after kicking a previous dependency to drugs and alcohol. Yet instead of making the clichéd transition to finding God, Newcombe has instead opened himself up to a world where he is now the master of his own identity. In terms of both his artistic and commercial merit, he now owns 100% of his own publishing and copyrights. A shrewd move indeed.

Subjected to an almost endless trajectory of outstanding Jonestown classics, the Glasgow crowd are entranced by the peyote-soaked grooves of the likes of the hypnotically foreboding 'Nevertheless', while 'Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth' is a raucous romp evoked through the seethingly nihilistic refrain "Take my money, take my time, take my sister, I don't mind." Matt Hollywood also takes over on vocal duties for his signature track 'Oh Lord' - sparking a mass sing-along amongst a wildly inebriated crowd.  

While new tracks such as 'What You Isn't' segue effortlessly between the rest of a gnarly setlist, this serves to further augment the fact that Anton Newcombe is vastly becoming an icon amongst a canonical elite of great American songwriters, of which he can now sit pride of place. As Bob Dylan once wistfully lamented regarding his own cultural status, "I had been anointed as the Big Bubba of Rebellion, High Priest of Protest, the Duke of Disobedience, Leader of the Freeloaders, Kaiser of Apostasy, Archbishop of Anarchy, the Big Cheese, horrible titles anyway you want to look at it. All code words for outlaw". Given his years of subversive posturing, had the same notions been applied to Anton, I'm sure he would have greatly approved.

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