7 Aug 2020
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Gig Review: Brian Jonestown Massacre @ Powerstation, Auckland - 16/06/2018

18 Jun 2018 // A review by Paul Goddard
It's a wet and windy night. The All Blacks playing means the bars surrounding Auckland's Powerstation are packed with rugby fans and finding a carpark is murder. It's a stark contrast to walking into The Powerstation where Arthur Ahbez and the Flaming Ahbez are playing to a handful of people. If you stayed over the road in Galbraiths to watch the All Blacks then you really missed out.

They are the perfect openers for Brian Jonestown Massacre as we are transported back to 60's San Francisco with their tripped-out folk-tinged psychedelic ride. How had I missed this band before now? It was only when I researched this article that I found out they are from New Zealand. Arthur has an amazing voice that doesn't just complement the music it is an integral part, another instrument and he along with the rest of the band have that rare ability to transport you via the music to another time and place. The set was over far too quickly, and I can't wait to see them again.

Anton Newcombe is no stranger to adversity. He thrives on it as anyone who has seen the Doco DIG! will know this is a man who lives and breathes music, often in an uncompromising and at times self-destructive way. He doesn't suffer fools (or band members) and can engage his mouth before his 180 IQ brain.

There is an air of anticipation as The Brian Jonestown Massacre saunter onto the stage looking effortlessly cool with Anton wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words Eat Shit. His unpredictable nature means you never know what to expect. If he isn't happy he will let us, and his band, know but tonight he appears happy and relaxed and starts by talking about how good it is to be back in New Zealand and how the music put out by Flying Nun has been a huge influence on him before launching into a sonic onslaught that he says was created by those influences.

The sound is perfect. Anton is a perfectionist, and also a producer. He directs the band and the sound engineers from his position on the left side of the stage and at one point his guitar tech/extra band member is even tuning Anton's guitar while he is playing it! The swirling melee of noise builds track by track and penetrates every part of your mind and soul. It also gets steadily louder as the night progresses.

There is an energy to the sounds created and to label this Psyche Rock or some other genre is kind of oversimplifying things. The songs are pulling on different genres and influences and being put through the unique blender that is Anton's mind. That takes things to a whole other level and a Brian Jonestown Massacre gig is something that everyone with an interest in any type of music should experience. Everything is about being in the moment, you get a real perception that the song could go anywhere. If it isn't working they will stop. If Anton wants to change direction or add something new mid-song he will do it. For any other band this would appear unprofessional or sloppy and although sometimes the breaks between songs where Anton is constantly tuning and tweaking instruments and amps can get a little tedious, watching the connection between the 8-10 people on the stage as songs finally emerge is amazing.

The two-hour show doesn't drag and passes by without incident. The finale is a pummelling drone of noise and as the band members walk off to an ear-shattering pulse of feedback we are left with just Anton on-stage tweaking the amps and keeping things rolling until he calls it quits thanks the crowd and heads off into the night. It's an evening I will never forget and one you should experience if and when The Brian Jonestown Massacre head back to New Zealand.


Review written by Paul Goddard
 

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