Brian Jonestown Massacre - Image by Damien Loverso

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Image by Damien Loverso

REVIEW: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Forum Theatre, May 19, 2012

by Zak Hepburn on May 25, 2012

in News,Reviews

Notorious psych act The Brian Jonestown Massacre scramble brains with the Raveonettes at the Forum Theatre.

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Image by Damien Loverso

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Image by Damien Loverso

A diverse crowd of ‘60s diehards, indie music aficionados and other nubile minds gathered at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre for a powerful, lysergic evening brought on by a notorious psychedelic double-act.

The Raveonettes take the stage, attention quickly centered as bassist Sharin Foo kicked off the set with track ‘Beat City’, amplified to a heart attack-inducing volume. This pace continued for the Danish band’s hour-long support set, which showcased the group’s distinctive male/female harmonies and dueling vocal lines, contrasting the youthful innocence of late ‘50s doo-wop pop with the sonic squall of shoegaze and mind-bending guitar chords.

While the venue was almost full for The Raveonettes, the swell came to full capacity as The Brian Jonestown Massacre enter the building. Arriving on stage in a haze of light and dry ice, the large ensemble of players appear like weary riders of an ancient storm – the  current living embodiment of an important counter-culture and ethos which contained a musical legacy that can’t be swept away by time.

Kicking off with ‘Vacuum Boots’ , the players get the crowd’s approval early on, and the Matt Hollywood-led ‘Got My Eyes On You’ offers a welcome counterpoint to both Anton Newcombe’s songwriting and singing, while also offering up a spoken-word section from the elusive tambourine man Joel Gion.

While it’s never in any doubt whose band The Brian Jonestown Massacre is, Anton stands isolated to the left of the stage for the entire performance, letting the focus sit on the strange enigmatic stage persona of Joel Gion.

‘Anemone’ and ‘This is Why You Love Me’ prompt some trippy dance moves among the audience, the dark mysticism of ‘Wisdom’ manages to send the crowd into a series of altered states. The show included many key tracks from the group’s massive back catalogue, with each rendition performed by the numerous musicians on stage in perfect synchronicity.

After closing out ‘You Have Been Disconnected’, Joel steps out from behind the wall of sound to sing lead vocals on ‘There’s a War Going On’. The final piece of the pie came with a killer rendition of ‘Straight Up And Down’ – blistering on all fronts and proving a worthy closer to the mammoth two-hour-long set. The ghost of Ken Kesey, Jerry Garcia and of course Brain Jones himself would surely approve.

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