"It's a long time since they last had a tanty or a meltdown on stage."
Melbourne's Masco Sound System had a live painter, Monique Bricknell. We don't know why. She painted a picture with swirls on it. We guess the combo of '60s guitar music and live art is some kind of new brand of cross-collaboration, more psych, more art, somehow more self-indulgent. The tunes were easy and free-wheeling, meandering, at their best when given time to stretch out, to speed up and slow down. We were mostly bored.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre opened with Never, Ever!, one of Anton Newcombe's psych-rock love songs. It sprawled out, the first of many opportunities for the band to indulge themselves in their repetitive psych-outs, blissful for the stoners in the crowd.
The Metro was sold out, punters swaying by the barrier and up the stairs. There was no all-out mayhem here, no Anton Newcombe "show" — it's a long time since they last had a tanty or a meltdown on stage. Instead performances here were measured, almost nonchalant, mesmerising, totally preoccupied with the jam, with the creation of textured soundscapes. Newcombe has almost evened out, saying little between songs, blue and red lights shining down upon the group, which on this tour lacked the usual gangly figure of Matt Hollywood. Instead it was a Newcombe-Joel Gion show, Gion adding colour and movement to the night with a pout and a jerk of the hips as he wheeled his tambourine around.
They play a textured set of old favourites, rarely heard B-sides, and new album tracks. Pish is a Western psych jangle; Anemone deserves the greatest noise and shuffle from the eager crowd; Open Heart Surgery picks up the love note, as close to a ballad as we're going to get from Newcombe; Who? had the most crowd participation and the most interaction between bandmates sharing mics; and Nevertheless has the required attitude from the understated Newcombe.
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It's two-and-a-half hours since we started, and there's no encore, just a quick wave from the group and their departure. Newcombe lights up as soon as he's side of stage, then is gone.