Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - July 5, 2003

One of the benefits of writing for a monthly is that I have the opportunity to read a few competing reviews before committing anything to paper. So when I read a counterpart's wholly hyperbolic assessment that on July 5 at Lee's Palace "BRMC showed they indeed may be the rebels this musical generation needs," I felt the need to remind our readers that, while the boys in black are a top-notch drone-rock outfit, who are even better live, for that matter, they're hardly subversive political crusaders. Sure, the raucous recalcitrance of (fuck/kill) the "U.S. Government" may sound reactionary, but that song, by the band's own admission, is over four years old. Regardless, Robert Turner and Peter Hayes could sing the words off a T4 slip and still sound good thanks to their distorted bluesy swagger, a sound that gets beefed up a touch on their forthcoming disc, Take Them On On Your Own. The steaming phalanx at Lee's didn't have to wait for a taste of the new more aggressive material though, as the bikers opened with the sonic fusillade of "Six Barrel Shotgun" before working a few more fresh numbers into the mix, such as "Stop," their equally ballsy current single. However, as with most shows, the crowd craved familiarity and between song tune-ups were littered with chants for "Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n' Roll." The rabble got their wish with a blistering revamped version at set's end, which worked well as a sweat-sharing vehicle in the hot-boxed concert hall. Any doubts about what's to come were erased by the eruptive encore "Heart and Soul," a fitting (apolitical) final track on the new LP, proving that BRMC are more comfortable torching speakers than U.S. embassies.