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The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Koko, 28th June 2006

So tonight it’s BJM – The Return Match. Things have moved up a notch in the past couple of weeks; Mr Gion has retired from the tour/band for an early bath, BJM are playing big old Koko and the place is sold out, people crammed into every nook and cranny; rubberneckers straining to see what all the fuss is about alongside excitable, newbie dedicated fans who are here to happily dance crazily to everything. There are even bootleg tee-shirts for sale outside. From my excellent stage-side balcony vantage point (arrive early for good views kids!) I gaze down on a sea of heads (ooh look there are The Left Outsides – cooee!), it’s a pretty weird sight, who are all these people? But, you know, a good thing for the band. What mood will they be in tonight, eh?

 

Earlier in the pub, Anton is charm personified, downing vod and pineapple whilst patiently dealing with the man from Artrocker’s somewhat clueless questioning; going all coy with photographer Bob, ‘cos he hasn’t had a chance to shave, and enthusing about support band Jakobinarina (he’s down there in the photo pit later cheering ‘em on). He is necking that vod tho.

Num, is there nothing a spot of vod cannae cure? (Except alcoholism, possibly)
Observe Uncle Alcohol and his sticky fingers.

Back at the venue, Nat Sonic Cathedral is DJing a fine set of swirling, juddering gazey songs, hovering above the crowd in the DJ pod as if riding a magical cloud of fuzz. As The Pale Saints’ ‘Sight of You’ (cor!) flickers round the room, BJM trundle on and kick into ‘Whoever You Are’. It’s good, but it’s not right. Something’s just that little bit off tonight, the general consensus being that Uncle Alcohol is poking his sticky fingers into proceedings way too much. Anton is finding the drumming irksome, insisting it’s not in time, and even though tempers remain relatively unfrayed all round, I still feel that the Kings College gig (fighting aside) had more musical verve. But hey, its been a long old tour and a slightly off set by BJM is still a marvel to behold - a good couple of hours of starcrossed noise that hugs you close ‘til you never want it to let go. Five songs in and I’m leaning out over the balcony to breathe in the fuddling fog of ‘Hide and Seek’ that’s skirling upwards. It’s still sounding magnificent. Breaking out of my drone-induced trance, I glance round to discover The Tamborines lurking cheekily behind me, taking photos and taking not. Hurrah! There’s a frugadelic ‘Vacuum Boots’ - a song that’s been sparking its merry way round my brain at random moments lately, and then there’s a bizarro, glacier slow, syrupy rendering of ‘Servo’.

Woo! Matthew Sigley from The Lovetones bowls on to add backing vocals to “Who’, although sadly the song cuts out early as Anton’s drummer-directed displeasure finally boils over. The rest of the band leave the stage (in an orderly fashion rather than in a “Fuck you!”, “No, fuck you!” manner) and Anton proceeds to do a little solo spot, accompanied by Matt on tambourine. There are a couple of aborted attempts at ‘Stars’ with Anton furiously trying to keep a bemused Matt on the beat (‘When I nod my head you hit it’ etc ho ho). Finally they knock out a sweetly touching, somewhat addled version of ‘God Is My Girlfriend’.
After this dizzy interlude, the rest of the band returns, sweeping through an elegantly swaying ‘Sailor’. Matt stays for the rest of the set playing the Joel role – in as much as anyone can play the Joel role i.e. by shaking a tambourine and even managing to look rather aloof about the whole thing at points. Admittedly Matt doesn’t reach the splendid heights of spectacular disdain that only Mr Gion can reach, and there are no snotty quips, but he does look mighty cute up there doing shuffly little mod dances in his Chelsea boots. Aw.

The curious bystanders lapse into cocktail chatter whilst the BJM faithful have themselves a ball, floating balloons out across the crowd to be batted to and fro until they reach the clutches of the viciously braindead security men who burst them as if they’re a major threat to everyone’s safety. Frankie (who’s looking shiny haired and a lot less ‘been lying in a ditch of whisky’ than at Kings) thanks the balloon bringers for their effort anyway. And the hits keep coming; Evergreen, Jennifer, That Girl Suicide, Wisdom, Telegram; before the final leap into the stratosphere with ‘Swallowtail’. Mr Matt shakes that tambourine throughout the song’s whole twenty-odd minutes, nobody argues, nobody fights and the band crash lands blissfully in an extended feedback electrical storm. A happy ending.

We heart Frankie!
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