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Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

O2 Academy, Leeds
by Susan Darlington

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would have been astounding if they'd only played for 15 minutes.

The LA trio ooze the very essence of sleaziness with the dumbly brilliant Red Eyes And Tears and Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song) which combine The Jesus And Mary Chain's guitar squalls with The Strokes's attitude.

Dressed in black and washed in red lighting, they're loud to the point of distortion and a timely reminder of the power of big brainless refrains, handclaps and sing-along breakdowns.

In common with The Strokes, who also released their debut album in 2001, there's nonetheless a sense of them trying and failing to recapture lost glories evidenced in their brand of grizzled weariness with the sub-Spiritualized blues of Conscience Killer and Hate The Taste.

Worse still, bassist Robert Levon Been attempts to show his sensitive side with a solo acoustic rendition of Mercy. With its air of poignancy that also pervades the band's sixth album Specter At The Feast, it's drowned out by the audience's chatter.

It was recorded after the death of the bassist's father, the band's producer and sound engineer, and his is a ghostly presence felt from the start with Been's cover of Let The Day Begin.

Later, he stalks through the lyrics of new tracks such as the valedictory Lose Yourself.

The band never recovers from the sense of musically exhausted earnestness and while set-closer Spread Your Love rouses the audience, it's a case of too little, too late to redeem the 90-minute performance.

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