Sunday, 6 February 2011

787 MISSION OF BURMA, Endless Boogie, London Camden Dingwalls, Thursday 13 May 2010

The noisy May continues with an ear-splitting double-header. Tomorrow it's The Still, but tonight a rare visit from Boston agit-noise pioneers Mission Of Burma, whose recent "The Sound The Speed The Light" CD Boston buddy EdV had a hand in producing. Hit the road at 6, sheepishly driving up due to my dodgy knee, nevertheless getting to Camden at 8 but then having a parking-mare and eventually dumping the motor behind Camden Gardens, so not hitting the venue till 8.30. I immediately wished I hadn't, as the singularly appropriately named support Endless Boogie, a bunch of hoary old acid casualties, were playing an interminably long and dreadful blues number called "Mama" which took over 20 minutes! At the end of their set, the band started packing up but the vocalist was still talking to the crowd and introducing the next number! Get off, old man, you're really not on this planet...

I took a wander down this tiered venue to the front, pitching up stage right behind a couple who'd driven down from Newcastle for the gig! Man, I thought my journey sucked... this however set the tone for this gig, as Mission Of Burma were received onstage with an almost frenzied level of devotion from the crowd of bookish indie types mostly sporting Sonic Youth t-shirts, as they ripped into opener "1-2-3 Partyyy", the anthemic, most accessible track from their new CD.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this legendary bunch of grizzled Boston rock veterans; Mission Of Burma were originally an early 80's post-punk art noise group strongly reminiscent of Wire, sharing their unorthodoxy, staccato military drumbeats and clipped, almost barked guitar and voice, yet producing 2 utterly classic new wave anthems in "Academy Fight Song" and "That's When I Reach For My Revolver". Reforming in 2002, they've since produced 3 albums of challenging, confrontational noise, and this set exemplified their uncompromising, intense approach. Swapping vocals between rakish bassist Clint Conley, monolith and bandleader Roger Miller and ex-Volcano Sun (and bandmate of Big Dipper's Gary Waleik!) drummer Peter Prescott, their set was kinetic and thrilling, played with a fury that belied the band's age. "This Is Hi-Fi" was a stridently chanted mid-set highlight, before the distinctive sinister growl and intense release of "Revolver", late set, greeted with frenzied acclaim. Encores of "The Ballad Of Johnny Burma" and a brilliantly anthemic "Academy Fight Song" however topped that, closing out a triumphant set perfectly. MOB's Wikipedia entry quotes Boston critic Tristram Lozaw referring to their legendary live inconsistency as, "you never knew whether you were going to get one of the most spectacular experiences of your life or if it was going to be a ball of incomprehensible noise." Tonight definitely veered to the former!

Afterwards, I got soundman and 4th member Bob Weston's set-list signed by the band, who all made complimentary remarks about my Big Dipper t-shirt and agreed to send my regards to Boston and Q Division. Also got to hang, albeit briefly, with London friend Lisa, before setting off at 11. A long journey home, and more rock tomorrow...

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