The Brian Jonestown Massacre @ o2 Academy, 16th October 2018

There are few bands that can grace a stage the size of the O2 Academy 2 quite like The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

A setting so small seems the ideal fit for your average four-piece at best – let alone up to five guitarists, a bassist, tambourinist, keyboard player and drummer.But it’s all become part and parcel for the San Francisco outfit, who have been causing chaos at tiny venues all over the world since 1990.

It was July 2014 when the group last turned out in Birmingham at the same venue, and they’ve unsurprisingly churned out five records for their adoring cult following since.

This time their visit comes on the back of new album Something Else – their 18th official studio release since it all started with Methadone back in 1995. And during that time prolific leader Anton Newcombe has taken the group on a rollercoaster journey through love, addiction, hatred and heartbreak to where it is today.

Despite recent records not receiving overwhelming critical acclaim, 600 fans young and old pack out the venue for an immersive and psychedelic two-hour experience.

As eight musicians arrive on stage each hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, they kick off the evening’s affairs with new track We Never Had A Chance and Whatever Happened to Them?

With just under 30 years of experience behind them, the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s catalogue of music is beyond extensive.The unpredictable set-list features a selection of their modern experimental beats mixed with classics from their 90s collection.

A thumping drumbeat signals new record opener Hold That Thought before they work their way through the likes of That Girl Suicide and Who Dreams of Cats? “You should be picking me up, instead you’re dragging me down. You’re flying over my head, you’re landing all over town.”

The incredible stoner anthem Anemone gets the crowd moving next after the unaptly-named Pish impresses.  Iconic tambourinist Joel Gion is the middle man and takes the usual spot of the ‘frontman’ whilst lead vocalist Anton is positioned out of the way.

Complete with Vox guitars and crooning vocals, When Jokers Attack is next before the crowd goes into an anarchic frenzy for Who? and Nevertheless.“Say goodbye to mom and dad, the two best friends I never had.” The music is slowed down for the emotional Devil May Care (Mom and Dad Don’t) before ramping things up to bring the show to a close with Yeah Yeah and A Word. A truly wild and chaotic close to a killer evening.

They might be 30 years down the line but this band are still as interesting and important to music as ever before.

There really isn’t anything quite like Anton Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre and with another album soon on its way there’s no chance of stopping them just yet.

Reviewer: Tom Oakley

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