Mission of Burma @ Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 01-05-16

In comparison with other first generation indie rock luminaries, Mission Of Burma’s career has followed a bit of an inverted trajectory.  Whilst their peers stayed the course for decades before finally running out of steam (R.E.M., Sonic Youth), imploded early on only to reconvene later to dine out on the creativity of their early years (Pixies) or retreated into a state of principled inactivity (Fugazi), Burma ended a twenty year hiatus over a decade ago to resume the workmanlike habits of a fully functioning rock band.

Their commitment to volume remains notoriously uncompromising, but thankfully this evening the Belgrave PA proves equal to the challenge of doing justice to the nuances of the Bostonian quartet’s sound; Roger Miller’s guitar and Bob Weston’s offstage sonic manipulations constructing a beautiful wall of noise on top of Peter Prescott’s barrelling drums and Clint Conley’s nimble, melodic basslines.

A touch grizzled looking these days but throwing themselves into their task with impressive gusto, tonight the band opt for a mixture of more recent material interspersed with signature tunes from a time when post-punk was morphing into indie rock and the seeds of the eventual alternative explosion were being sown.

It’s a rare pleasure to be able to say that the qualities which distinguished Burma during their initial run are still in evidence; a fraternal dynamic in which all three onstage members sing lead on different songs and Miller’s musical abrasiveness finds the perfect foil in Conley’s unabashed pop sensibility.  The high point is a joyous tear through ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’, arguably the first bona fide alt-rock anthem.

On the Vibrations stereo...