[boc-l] BOC: O2 Academy, Leeds, 25 February 2019

Jonathan Jarrett jjarrett at coriolis.greenend.org.uk
Sat Mar 9 07:02:15 EST 2019

 	Dear all,
 		  I went to see the band, and I thought I should tell someone. 
So assuming anyone's still here, here you are...

 	I had told myself I'd seen BOC for the last time after being very 
disappointed back in something like 2011, but since then Allen died, a friend 
of mine saw them at a festival and said they were good, my partner had never 
seen them and they were in the city where I work, and too many musicians I love 
have died in recent years to pass up a chance to see the ones who are left, so 
we went. And it was pretty good!

 	The O2 Academy is an all right venue, with bars and entryways laid out 
in a sensible fashion, and before anything started I made sure I got a tour 
shirt, because there were some! That and the number of roadies working the 
stage made it clear that there was a bit more money behind this tour than some 
I've seen them on, and everything ran very nicely. The support band were called 
The Temperance Movement, a would-be Americana hard-rock/blues outfit fronted by 
a Scotsman with much of the Shane McGowna or Ron Tree about him, though an 
excellent voice; just a very strange spasmodic stage presence. The lead 
guitarist clearly thought he was better than the rest of the band and I 
wouldn't argue with him. My partner and I agreed, however, that when they'd 
finished, they'd reminded us of several excellent songs by other people but we 
couldn't imagine wanting to put on a Temperance Movement record instead of the 
things they were homaging, sometimes in deliberate lyrical fashion. They were, 
however, an excellent support act: they made the Big Noise and got people 

 	BOC nearly lost that momentum when they came on. I don't know what it 
was but everybody but Richie Castellano seemed to be starting from cold. Eric's 
voice has acquired still more limits; he can still manage a decent yell but at 
low volumes he cracks and his top range is now quite low. Buck's voice is also 
beginning to close in from the top, so neither frontman was really in shape for 
it, but they were noticeably better after doing a song each, as if they hadn't 
warmed up before they came on stage. Buck also took a song or two to wear into 
his guitar, Danny Miranda (bass) and Jules Rondino (drums) took a long time to 
get properly in synch with the rest of the band (Jules maybe half the set)... 
Richie, however, was at full show-off power immediately he sprang out of his 
box. Also, I'm not sure the soundman turned Eric's guitar up to where it could 
be heard until `Reaper'. So there were definitely problems, but to be honest, 
they worked them out, and by the end it was clear again that this was a really 
good band, even if one might have argued a little bit about whether it still 

 	Setlist, with comments:
1. Dr Music (all the problems mentioned plus the essential ones of it
 	being a disco song delivered by four men in black and leather; I
 	don't know why they open with this one)
2. Before the Kiss, a Redcap (this shook the creaks out of Buck's voice
 	and guitar, but they were still there when he started and it was
 	very short)
3. The Golden Age of Leather (for me this was where it started to get
 	good. I guess the effort of all singing together acapella at the
 	beginning started to focus them on what the others were doing a
 	bit more)
4. Burnin' For You (I've seen this better, because Buck just seemed tired,
 	but he delivered it with his usual panache; I think he could do
 	this song in his sleep by now and it must be hard to keep it
 	exciting but he did a good job)
5. This Ain't the Summer of Love (maybe shortest version ever! But
 	noticeably tighther now)
At this point Eric polled the audience for the next track, giving them a choice 
between `Harvest Moon' and `Shooting Shark'. I cheered for `Harvest Moon', but 
the cheers for `Shooting Shark' were louder, so that's what we got. This was 
the first sign I got that they genuinely were shaking up the setlist a bit, 
compared to the template performance I've come to expect, and was one of 
several things that made me admit my expectations had been a bit mean. So:
6. Shooting Shark (this is also a pop song, isn't it,. but I did enjoy it)
7. The Vigil (I love this song so much I doubt they could do what I
 	thought was a bad version, and this one creaked a bit in places,
 	but they made it suitably dramatic even if they mostly didn't do
 	the top notes)
8. E.T.I. (unexpected, and by now we were singing along, they had the
 	crowd at last)
9. Buck's Boogie (predictably, perhaps, this was where Buck got properly
 	in gear, and I think anyone who hadn't seen him before would now
 	have realised that they were watching one of the really great
 	guitarists. He remains musical throughout the stunts and knows
 	where spaces can fall between the notes in a way that only the
 	long-term players can. I was properly back in the fanbase now)
10. (Then Came the) Last Days of May (this was excellent. Richie has fully
 	taken over Allen's role, and gave the solos his all; he plays
 	scales a lot and his guitar is clearly *very important to him* but
 	he would have been very impressive had he not been sharing a stage
 	with Buck; still, I feel like he made Buck up his game, and it all
 	showed that Richie is a full contributor to the band and not just
 	a session-man)
Now, again, Eric said that they were going to do something unusual, for the 
people who were seeing every show on the tour--apparently there were some, as 
they shouted when called upon--and so we got something I've never seen them do:
11. Screams -> She's as Beautiful as a Foot (this song is still
 	beautifully surreal, and they didn't give it much time, basically
 	just as it is on the record, but as if to anchor the point of his
 	full participation, Richie sang 'Screams')
12. Godzilla (this was surprisingly short, and there were no drum and bass
 	solos. That was almost a pity, as Danny's huge overdriven bass
 	sound had been on the edge of swamping the mid-range for much of
 	the gig and getting any actual definition of what he was doing
 	through the general wash of low-end was quite hard. I might have
 	taken away his overdrive pedal just to get closer to the classic
 	sound, to be honest)
13. (a solo instrumental by Buck whose name I didn't know, only short,
 	largely done on delay pedals as if they were loop-stations; cool,
 	but odd here. It was, however, essentially functioning as intro
14. (Don't Fear) The Reaper (and this of course was excellent, as it
 	always is; it was also noticeable how everybody knew it, from
 	young to old, but then I guess if they didn't know this song they
 	wouldn't be in the gig; I hope they went home with new songs to
 	love. Eric's guitar was finally audible by now, and just as well
 	as the song wouldn't climax properly without it)
And then the short pause and shouting, and then encore!
15. Dancing in the Ruins (I wasn't expecting this, and enjoyed it a lot;
 	again, a pop song, but Buck has written some good pop songs)
16. Hot Rails to Hell (sung by Richie, but with the full three-way guitar
 	interplay we'd hope for cut back because Eric was again
 	inaudible; Richie and Buck were both barnstorming though)

 	So, it was good. Eric is finally getting old, Buck is beginning to, 
Richie has enough spare energy for both but can't *be* either of them, Danny 
could maybe tone down the monster bass noise, and Jules Rondino in his 
spectacles and shirt-sleeves cuts an odd figure among the rest of the 
black-clad badged and beleathered crew, but once they were all in gear this was 
still probably the best band playing in the UK that night. I had thought I 
wouldn't see them again and now I will make sure I do.

 	Postscript: checking Hot Rails to Hell, I now understand that Eric was 
ill for this performance, so what I say above about his voice might hopefully 
mostly be temporary! Yours all,

ObCD: Motörhead - _Rock and Roll_
"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since
  it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has
               a mind to do." (Benjamin Franklin)
   Jonathan Jarrett, Leeds, jjarrett at chiark.greenend.org.uk

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