Brighton Dome, February 7th

Part of the unbelievable folly that is the Brighton Pavillions, the Dome is rapidly becoming one of my favourite venues. Maybe I'm getting old - I AM getting old - but any venue where you have enough room to get really close to the stage without fighting all night to hold on to your spot is good in my books. Plus, the PA is very loud and crystal clear and due to it's rigorously enforced no smoking policy, you don't get some pre-teen blowing smoke up your nose all night. In fact the Dome is like the rest of Brighton - ostentatious and full of polite weirdos.

It appears that tonight, most of those weirdos have come to see both bands on the bill. As we arrive The Cooper Temple Clause are launching into their first number and the hall is already packed. It takes a few songs for both the band and the audience to warm up, but by the time "Let's Kill Music" lights the blue touch paper the first crowd surfer rolls into the air. As someone who'd previously written off TCTC, my subsequent re-evaluation seems timely as it looks like they are about to go stellar. Songs like "Music Box" and "Blind Pilots" are already classics.

BRMC are the band who, on the surface, could have been tailor made for me. As a "biker" who has spent much of his adult life wearing black and listening to the Jesus & Mary Chain, the first whisperings of an aptly monikered band from San Francisco, making blacker-than-black, balls-out politicised rock'n'roll, grabbed my attention. Three years, two albums and seven gigs later and here we are. Admittedly I almost certainly wouldn't be here tonight if Coopers hadn't been supporting, but I'm glad I came.

Last time I saw BRMC, at Brixton Academy, they seemed lost, as if they were struggling to fill the space, their usual confrontational swagger having deserted them. Tonight though they seem re-energized. Coming off a week of secret gigs, REALLY secret gigs and another Brixton show, this is a band on top form again. Starting tonight's show with four acoustic numbers is a brave move but one which is warmly received. Rob then straps on his familiar red bass and the cyclical bassline of "Spread your Love" gives the crowd the green light.

I've always been impressed by the amount of NOISE that Peter and Rob can muster, and tonight, through the aforementioned PA, BRMC are stunning. Standout tracks, as always, are "Six Barrel Shotgun", "Stop" and "Punk Song". Plus - they seem to have learnt how to engage the crowd on a personal level, Rob jumping into the audience during the encore and Peter moving about a lot ! Not sure about Nick's new hairstyle though...

SET LIST: Complicated Situation, Shuffle Your Feet, Love Burns, Spread Your Love, We're All in Love, Six Barrel Shotgun, Fail-Safe, Stop, White Palms, New Song, In Like The Rose, Rise Or Fall, Going Under, Shade Of Blue, Heart + Soul. Encore : As Sure As The Sun, Red Eyes And Tears, Punk Song

Richy [ February 9th, 2004 ]

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