Monday, 2 August 2010
396 MERCURY REV, Snowpony, Bristol Fleece, Wednesday 20 January 1999
Another 1999 sell-out gig! This time I drove down to Bristol, after checking that Clive had personal RAC cover (good thing, too, as it turned out) and we parked near the Fleece, Clive selling another spare ticket for £15! The place was totally heaving straight from the off; Snowpony were on at 9 and played pseudo-goth mood music which varied from reasonable Curve impressions (appropriate considering ex-Curve bassist Debbie Smith was on keyboards) to dull unlistenable tosh. The tattooed female vocalist had one of the most emotionless voices I've ever heard, which turned me off their music totally.
From the ridiculous to the totally sublime; Mercury Rev came on at 10 and were utterly magnificent. Translating the more mellow elements and nuances of their stunning "Deserters Songs" LP into the live environment should have been a more formidable task, but they managed it with effortless ease, playing virtually the whole of this breakthrough LP during their 1 hour 15 minute set. Live, the songs took on new life, power and resonance, and soared to the heavens. My brother had previously asked whether The Rev were "Big" Music; for sure, bro', this is "Big" Music. In fact this is stratospherically huge, heart full of love, brain-crackingly massive music. They really don't come much bigger than this!
Jonathan Donahue, Rev vocalist and undoubtedly the coolest rock star on the planet right now, varied between an expression of utter bliss and an astonishing smile during the set, which, as per their LP, swept up rock, Americana, blues, ragged punk and above all majestic melody, and created a shining and unique sound.
To top it all, the encore was Galaxie 500's magnificent "Tugboat", especially for me! I'd bumped into guitarist Grasshopper earlier and requested it, to which he replied that they weren't planning to play it but would do so if - if, ha! - they got an encore. Needless to say, I was shouting the loudest at the end of their set! When they announced it I shouted, "thanks, Grasshopper," and he caught my awed gaze during their rendition, even apologising for allegedly messing up a guitar part during this nevertheless wonderful reading.
The night wasn't over, though, as we got back to my car, all eulogising about The Rev, to find that some bastard had cut my car's fuel lines! Good thing I'd checked Clive's RAC cover, as we called out a repairman, who effected a temporary repair to get us home eventually at 2 am. Not even that incident could dampen the evening though. An astonishing performance from an astonishing band; Mercury Rev!