The Brian Jonestown, Druid Fluids @ The Gov, Adelaide 15/11/2023

Shoe-gaze is a genre of music that’s seems to be popping up more often these days with bands coming to town. The Brian Jonestown Massacre fall under that category, amongst many other categories, including psychedelic. Adelaide must have a thing for psychedelic shoe-gaze music as the gig at The Gov was completely sold out.

First up on stage were local band Druid Fluids, a natural choice for support band to The Brian Jones Massacre with their prog tinged, psychedelic bliss sound. They only played a couple of songs in the thirty-minute set, but they certainly had the audience onside. Front man Jamie Andrew made the most of the sold-out crowd by getting the audience to give a call out to his dad, who was in the throng. The band is really hard to categorise, which in this day is a great thing. They are refreshingly good. Catch them soon.

The Brian Jones Town Massacre have been around over twenty years and have over twenty studio albums to pick songs from, but tonight was to be all about now, with nine of the fourteen songs coming from the last two albums. Nothing wrong with that, they are great albums.

The band walked on stage rather inconspicuously, and after a slow hand clap instigated by the band, lead singer Anton Newcombe led them into #1 Lucky Kitten from 2022 album Fire Doesn’t Grow on Trees. Interestingly, Anton took position on the right side of the stage, not the middle. If he had been any further right, he would have been playing in front of The Gov fireplace. Made it a bit hard for those up the back section to see him though.

After the song, Anton had realised his guitar amp wasn’t switched on, so there was a bit of time getting that right before a brilliant The Real also from the above album. And yes, we could hear the difference now Anton’s guitar was turned on. His guitar sound now filled the room, even with four other guitars being played. The Real reached a high that I didn’t think the band would reach again on this evening and it did take a while before they did.

Another break between songs with Anton fiddling and tuning his guitar, the band just talking and having a drink between the songs. As the minutes grew, the audience also decided they would have a talk or go to the bar. Fudge followed with Anton declaring at the conclusion of the song, “God bless this country and everyone who loves it. That’s all I am saying”.

The breaks between songs became the norm. Up to eight minutes between songs is way too long and the flow of the music got lost as audience just started talking amongst themselves. But the music was superb when we got it. Pish from 2015 was sensational, Your Mind is my Café just beautiful and the soundscape that was You Think I’m Joking, filled the room. Although before Joking he put down 1980’s Hip Hop artists as having no staying power. “Even Britney Spears has more staying power” he commented. He said a lot of strange things over the course of the evening.

The run home, music wise was just extraordinary. The Mother of All Fuckers was an extended jam that went for around ten minutes. I wish it had gone for another ten minutes. Prodigious guitar breaks abounded. Anton told us to “wish peace on to everyone around you, even complete strangers”. The gentleman next to me leaned over the bar and wished peace to the staff behind it.

But then there was eight-minute break before an equally as good Nightbird and after a five-minute break we got the “last song. Do you want it in the style of Rock or in the style of Roll?” in Anemone. What a conclusion to the evening. As band members started leaving the stage, feedback bled out of speakers and only four, then three members of the band remained on stage, wringing the last notes out of their instruments, before they too left the stage, not via the dressing room, but via the audience.

Shoe-gaze combines ethereal, swirling vocals with layers of distorted, bent guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument is distinguishable from another. The Brian Jonestown Massacre covered all these criteria, plus more, during their set. Nevertheless, they may have been on stage for over two hours but we only got sixty minutes of music. This is not good enough. There were an additional four songs on the set list that just didn’t get played.

The music played however was surreal, dreamlike and glorious.

Live Review by Geoff Jenke

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