Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 30 Jul
These rebels without a cause flit confidently between solo acoustic, country rock and noise pop tonight in a set that sadly lags in the middle
There was a period in rock where bands tried to make a literal wall of noise. Loud screaming guitars, clashing drums and shouty lyrics that, assumedly, were meant to convey some sort of energy. And it can work if done right. Queen Kwong don't quite hit the mark tonight in their BRMC support slot.
When they first take the stage they do so in silhouette and with a rolling build-up that makes the audience take notice and listen. But when singer Carré Callaway takes to the mic to scream the momentum just sort of dies. From then on, every song follows the same format: screeching guitar, pounding drum build-up, noise, build-up, NOISE, end. It’s the musical equivalent of blue balls and it’s frustrating. The build-ups are well put together and Queen Kwong do give an energetic performance onstage but just can’t seem to reach that all important climax. They finish their set, dismantle their kit and are gone in a flash.
As we wait patiently for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, we notice the massive age range of the crowd. Teens rubbing shoulders with leather-clad baby boomers and monochrome millennials in a way we thought impossible in the modern world. And when BRMC appear, it all makes sense. Named after, and dressed like, Marlon Brando’s biker gang from The Wild One, they’re a harkening back to the romantic rebel without a cause. Each track feels at home in a bar brawl; each a defiant chant, we can practically feel the open road stretching out in front of us.
BRMC don’t stick to the same genre for long though and as the night progresses they’re moving confidently between solo acoustic to country rock to noise pop cut Circus Bazooko. And while it’s good to see a band diversify, their strength clearly lies in their rebel personas. Only hardcore fans are singing along for the middle third of the performance and during the acoustic portion, the sound of the crowd nearly drowns singer Robert Levon Been out. Thankfully, the last half hour is a return to form and these rebels have found a cause.