Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Rebel

American rock band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club performed a sold out show at Rebel in Toronto. In picture: PETER HAYES, ROBERT LEVON BEEN, LEAH SHAPIRO

Photos by Angelo Marchini

I’ve often wondered what possesses bands to tour in the dead of winter, especially in barren wastelands like Canada when the February chill has really set in.
Aside from the fact Toronto has a pretty limited window when it comes to acceptable outdoor concert weather, there’s something to be said about a huddled mass coming together in a venue like REBEL for the same shared reason…and not just to get out of the cold.

There is also some music that doesn’t transition as well as into the light like high-end designer sunglasses. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club tends to play that kind of music – Revelling in dimly-lit nightclub environments for more than 15 years now, you literally have to squint your eyes to make out Wild One-inspired gang members Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been growl out cuts from latest album Wrong Creatures.
While the bitterness outside kept the crowd from going too feral, BRMC playing eight new tracks probably had something to do with the relatively tame environment. Good reactions were had for more familiar tracks such as “Ain’t No Easy Way”, and the band even dug out “Screaming Gun” from their 2001 debut by audience request. I think I tweeted it best when I wrote:


BRMC have a unique group setup that sees them frequently alternate between singers as well as both electric and acoustic guitars, creating more than enough heaviness that makes you forget the need for a traditional bassist. Bruising one minute, feedback-laden psychedelia bordering on droning the next, with awesomeness being the only middle ground.
A touch of eerie too, but you’re going to get that when your first song out of the gate is called “Spook”.
The clouds that billow around them plus drummer Leah Shapiro in this supposedly smoke-free facility are so thick, it only adds to the moodiness. I have to add how good it is to see Shapiro healthily pounding away after having brain surgery a few years back. I definitely #Beleah!

Nights Beats were an appropriately broody opener, drenching us in Jesus and Mary Chain-sounding warmth and fuzziness that was light on vocal legibility but kept the strobe light technician plenty busy. “Hey Mama” was about as upbeat as they got, and that’s just the way we liked it.

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