Album Review: BRMC – Live In Paris

BRMC Live In Paris

brmc-live-in-paris-cd_1024x1024Released 4th May 2015

Words: Nick Jacques

The front cover for the latest instalment in BRMC’s sizable back catalogue is a dramatic shot of a wave engulfing the theatre in which they played and recorded this concert. In a way it sums up this epic 24 track album. The first half of the record has the beginnings of a tide and by the encore it feels like a massive wave has swelled to such an extent it’s overwhelming.

BRMC have now recorded and released 7 albums and it’s quite a miracle that they have managed to survive and continue make new material. Back in 2004 their label Virgin Records dropped them, their former drummer Nick Jago left the band in uncomfortable circumstances back in 2008 after he wanted to concentrate on his solo project and they brought the Ravonettes Drummer Leah Shapiro in as a replacement. So to know that BRMC are still plugging away, its official in my opinion that they have triumphed against the odds.
BRMC Live in Paris was recorded on 24th February 2014 at the Theatre Trianon in front of a sell-out crowd and captures all of the band’s moods here brilliantly. From the eerie beginnings of the opener Firewalker to an all-out blistering rendition of the classic Whatever Happened To My Rock n’ Roll? is serves as reminder of the depth and soul of a performance which Peter Hayes, Robert Levon Been and Leah Shapiro can conjure up on stage and for it to be played out in a marvellous theatre makes it all the more appropriate for the album to have been recorded and released.
The first highlight are Robert Levon Been’s striking vocals on the track Returning. It’s a beautiful, delicate and measured display and both the crowd and instrumentation equally complement the maturity of his performance. At least 10 of the first 12 tracks on show here are from the band’s latest studio album effort Spectre at the Feast. Early pace setter Teenage Disease is one of them and shows that BRMC clearly still know how put sceptics to rest with searing duo vocal display from both Been & Hayes whilst merciless guitars dual against the frenetic drums. Show stopping stuff from the San Francisco black-leather clan! After the early peak, the atmosphere turns down a notch or 2 and the distortion is lowered to a hush to make way for a more meditative phase in this epic live set. New tracks like Some kind of Ghost and Sometimes the Light include organ atmospherics which provide a more spooky and contemplative feel to BRMC’s rock n roll soul.
Whilst Funny Games (another new track) injects life once again with a slice of searing riffage and shuddering symbols which make the crowd wail with approval. It’s not until after Lose Yourself that the crowd is treated to more familiar material in the shape of Beat the Devil’s Tattoo (Taken from the album of the same name) and we have a more relaxed atmosphere in the air now and the band are beginning to loosen up and play old favourites before we’re thrown back to their more recent material in the shape of Sell It but this has a cool crawling swagger to it. Hayes vocals click with the dynamics effortlessly.
More familiar material in the shape of Ain’t No Easy Way Out and Berlin are both crowd pleasers in their own right. The immediacy of these tracks is hard to resist and BRMC show here the depth of their song-writing credentials. Both of these are performed with customary aplomb and are note perfect, the crowd responds accordingly. Next up is Conscience Killer and keeps up the pace with more distinctive crunching riffs hurtled from Been & Hayes whilst Shapiro more than manages to hold her drum sticks in check.

Rifels proves to be the 1st track of the 4 aired that night from their self-titled debut album. Which is in my opinion arguably one of the classic albums of the past 15 years. It was one of the influential albums from garage-rock revival era of the early noughties. Rifles still sounds fresh as ever and it’s a tiny relief to hear an old favourite being belted out with passion and the crowd approving of it very much. Stop 1st track off their 2nd album Take Them On, On your Own provides another highlight as its moody bass riff reels the punters in – gradually taking your expectation up another level. Another classic White Palms is another welcome addition to the set-list and yet again draws a lot of recognition from the crowd with cheers. Especially the next track and classic fan favourite Spread Your Love which ticks all the boxes of it being an anthem in its own right. One of the band’s highlights in their prolific catalogue.
Before BRMC round off a triumphant set with what else but the undeniable and unashamed peach of a tune Whatever Happened to my Rock n Roll? They saddle up with a little brief acoustic ditty called Mercy before launching into a thunderous and crowning rendition of Whatever happened . . . . By this point they have their fans immersed and in the palms of their hands. A fitting, if somewhat, predictable way to finish the live album off but would we want it to end any other way??
Whatever happened . . . . is a fully fledged classic now and is perhaps an indication that BRMC have put their own thumb print on the family tree of rock n roll.
Overall this is an epic live album that is both a coherent and stimulating listen which caters for those who have been a fan of BRMC since their inception back in the early noughties and for those who aren’t too familiar with their cool druggy echoes of Jesus & Mary Chain. Enjoy!


Watch the video for Sometimes The Light (Live In Paris) here:

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