Concert Review: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Gloin, April 4, Queen Elizabeth Theatre


Ahead of Monday night’s Brian Jonestown Massacre show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre came the unfortunate news that their tourmates Mercury Rev would not be playing any of the Canadian dates due to being turned away at the border. This was a bit of a disappointment, however, locals Gloin delivered an engaging set of noise rock in their place that got the evening off to a good start before the headliners would take to the stage.

After thanking us all for coming and passing on Mercury Rev’s regrets that they couldn’t make it, BJM frontman Anton Newcombe revealed a bit more about why Mercury Rev didn’t make it – apparently someone in their camp stole a John Coltrane boxed set several decades ago and so was denied for that reason, even though the band surely must have crossed the border several times in the interim before being turned back this time. Who can really predict the whims of a border guard, though? Surely not I.

With that out of the way, the band launched into their first song of the night, “We Never Had A Chance” and from there, they locked into a groove and pretty much kept it going throughout most of the set. For some in attendance, however, it wasn’t quite the groove they were looking for and sadly, for a good chunk of the night, it turned into Anton vs. the fans. Or at least a vocal minority amongst the fans.

It started out somewhat early, with a few dudes shouting out “Thank God for Mental Illness!” but eventually some of the hecklers got a bit more persistant and aggressive in expressing their dissatisfaction and later in the evening, it was a matter of Newcombe and his bandmates dealing with the wrath of dissatisfied fans. I was reminded of a certain Sloan lyric.

Playing a set that’s heavy on new stuff is certainly a bit of a gamble, especially when the new album isn’t due out until June, and as Newcombe himself admitted, doing so could certainly be seen as “commercial suicide.” But here’s the thing – the new songs all sound like Brian Jonestown Massacre songs – and several sound like pretty good ones too. It’s not like it’s a radical departure from their sound and as Newcombe pointed out during a mid-set response to some of the hecklers, “I decided to play new music because I write new music.” It’s a good point – while some may choose to do so at their shows, artists shouldn’t be expected to just be a jukebox pumping out the old hits to appease the fans.

This was an evening that proved that there’s truth to the old adage “you can’t please everyone.” But it was also an evening that saw the return to Toronto of a band with a dedicated fan base and I’d wager that most of those in attendance left feeling satisfied at the end of the night and looking forward to the new album. That album, Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees, is due out on June 24.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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