Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mission of Burma in Leeds

Mission of Burma were one of the main attractions at Stewart Lee’s All Tomorrows Party in Prestatyn so four days later a trip to Leeds to hear them in action again seemed a good idea. Before they played a similar but slightly different set, a Leeds quartet Rats on Rafts warmed the stage with some dynamic indie rock. Whilst not overtly goth they had a sound that had Leeds band all over it. Their best moments were when a song stopped dead and revved up again on a drum break. Their weakest link was the undistinctive vocals. They seemed to have almost as many records for sale afterwards as Mission of Burma!

Just like Prestatyn Mission of Burma started with “Funworld.” There was a small delay after Roger Miller strummed the riff for “Spider’s Web” before bassist Clint Conley and drummer Peter Prescott were ready so I got to do a little acapella “world flips when an animal gets its soul” in the interim. Clint’s first lead vocal of the night was “2wice” if I remember correctly, and Peter’s “Sectionals in Mourning.” Mission of Burma have a sound a like a juggernaut crashing off the tracks and taking half the road with it, although the experience is a hell of a lot safer. Maybe not so safe for the ears though, as it’s well documented that they had to stop in the eighties due to Roger Miller’s hearing damage. Peter Prescott still wacks the drums hard, and there is still a perspex screen between him and Roger both this and the Prestatyn performance were not as loud as they have been on past occasions. “1,2,3 Party!” had a roadie in a Ramones T-shirt join them to say the “1,2,3” part but had to be aborted at first attempt due to transformer problems. Bob Weston filled in with some varispeed digital loops of guitar drone and about five minutes later they were ready to resume the party. “Let Yourself Go!” hollered Peter, so we did, as he drummed like a ten car pile up. There was some neat manic slide guitar from Roger on “This is not a Photograph.”  There was a new song they didn’t play in Prestatyn, unless it was some obscure cover version. “I’m so tired…” sang Roger at the start of “New Disco” which perfectly described my physical state all week after the Prestatyn party. Then he looped himself out of a personal grudge. “Fame and Fortune” was still a stupid game. I forget which song it was but towards the end Roger knocked his microphone at a tricky angle and had to lean over to sing into it. After falling into the water and reaching for their revolvers they escaped their certain fate by walking off for a quick break. Despite singing them a bit of “Wounded World” I didn’t get my song request but the encore was a triple wammy of “Peking Spring,” “The Ballad of Johnny Burma” and “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate.”

The next day they should have been playing the cancelled All Tomorrow’s Party curated by Drive Like Jehu but instead had arranged a last minute support with Fire records label mates Pere Ubu in London. They ended up backing David Thomas on a rendition of “Heart of Darkness.” Then they flew to Belgium. Not quite the heart of darkness perhaps. More like the heart of chocolate and strong beer.

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