Tuesday, 4 December 2012

866 MISSION OF BURMA, Future Of The Left, Bristol Fleece, Monday 3 December 2012

… and we’re back at the Fleece again! Barely a week after No. 50 at this venerable old venue, here’s number 51! My hosts this evening are also equally venerable, as well as venerated; some proper Boston Rock Royalty, in the shape of The Hub’s very own veteran noisemakers Mission Of Burma, fresh from producing another album of challenging and uncompromising noise in this year’s “Unsound” CD, and also fresh from an ATP Xmas Festival appearance the previous weekend. So, just two years after trekking up to Dingwalls on a school night to catch a remarkable show from this bunch, it’s nice to have a much closer trip to Bristol!

So I tiptoed down a clear but cold (and potentially frosty) M4 after the kids went to bed, parking round the corner and hitting the venue at 8.30, missing openers Cursor but hearing a screamy soundcheck from main support Future Of The Left. I liked their t-shirts, advertising current CD “The Plot Against Common Sense” and featuring a man walking a penguin (!), and was also intrigued by their rousing reception from an already-busy Fleece, on their entrance at 8.45. Initially they baffled and frustrated me; for every piece of dramatically thrilling and jagged rock in the style of …Trail Of Dead or an extreme Seafood, perhaps, there were 3 or 4 clumsy stabs at screamy Nu-Metal. But I liked the patter (responding to a, “yeah baby,” shout, the vocalist berated the punter with, “that’s for the 4th date; there’s other names to go through first; “Captain”, or if you’re dressed the right way, “Mr Squirrel”!”), and the crowd were going nuts for them, with an increasing and frenzied mosh, making for a great atmosphere which the band fuelled with an impressive performance. This culminated in a lengthy and utterly mental final number climaxing in the blond guitarist screaming, “I trusted you!” repeatedly whilst jamming one guitar down a punter’s shirt (!) and handing another out to the mosh, while the drummer played on as his kit was dismantled around him!

After a fiddly set-up and soundcheck (which also included putting perspex screens around drummer Peter Prescott’s kit!), the 3-piece Mission Of Burma eventually took the stage at 10.15. I suspected this would be a noisy one, which was underlined by guitarist Roger Miller handing out free earplugs beforehand (!), so I took his advice and donned my own! After a largely instrumental opener we were into “Devotion”, bearing the jagged, visceral rock and barking, submerged vocals which are Miller’s stock-in-trade, Miller also belying his age by throwing Chuck Berry shapes reminiscent of The Gravel Pit’s own Ed Valauskas! “Fell-à H20” followed, being introduced by drummer Peter Prescott with the admission, “we’re on the older side, so this one is about falling down!”

As expected, the set was noisy, dramatic, powerful and kinetic, with a notable demarcation between “hook machine” bassist Clint Conley’s more accessible, hooky, herky-jerky New Wavey material and the growling, seething noise of Miller and Prescott’s songs, where staccato, militaristic drumbeat-led rhythms melded into choruses which often concluded in tumbling chaos. “Photograph”, a prime example of the latter, was followed in short order by new CD highlight, Conley’s “Semi Pseudo Sort Of Plan” mid-paced and almost singalong, embellished by Miller’s eerie backing vocals, then a lengthy “Donna Sumeria” which featured a repeated bubbling riff building into an apocalyptic climax. However the inevitable, wonderful all time classic “Academy Fight Song”, toughened-up “live” tonight, was a strident and all-inclusive chant to end the set.

A two song encore of a Wipers cover, followed by another classic oldie in “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”, was a perfect way to close proceedings; although, of course, as they’re a Boston lot I had to catch brief words with them afterwards, chatting to Peter Prescott about mutual friend Gary Waleik of The Big Dipper, and hearing Roger Miller’s story of seeing a young Jimi Hendrix “live”, having tried to give his ticket away first! I left with eardrums ringing (despite the earplugs) and a message for Roger to, “give my regards to Boston,” after a fine night in the company of this particular band of Boston Rock Royalty!


  1. Yet again I miss a great-sounding gig at The Fleece :-(
    Health issues meant I couldn't go so I'll have to rely on your excellent review and YouTube for vicarious thrills...

    It looks from the set list like they played That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate... what a classic!

  2. Yes they did! I was rocking out down the front alongside that big blond bloke who's always at Bristol gigs (Jeff, I think?) so that one whipped by in a frenzy...