“And sometimes, we all manage to stop playing the song at the same time.” PETER PRESCOTT certainly had more than the tip of his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek, as MISSION OF BURMA played the second of a two night stretch for a hometown crowd, with plenty of energy and high speed, not-quite-off-the-rails execution. No, they won’t win any precision/accuracy awards but the world doesn’t need another RUSH and Burma’s mow-down philosophy fits perfectly with their chosen brand of songwriting, aptly described with the song “Careening With Conviction.” It’s hard to believe that the band has been together in phase two almost twice as long as its original incarnation from ’79-‘83, but the body of work laid down since then more than validates the rebirth.
The newest record of Burma’s, The Sound, The Speed, The Light, while not a failure, is the first slight blemish to their recording legacy. The maelstrom of pummeling drums, blazing guitars courtesy of ROGER MILLER, and CLINT CONLEY‘s gutbucket rumbling bass is intact, but the songwriting isn’t as memorable, and this was underscored when comparing “One Day We Will Live There” or “SSL 83” to “2wice” or “Spider’s Web,” two highlights off of 2006’s The Obliterati. I suppose that’s an unfair comparison, as those two songs I would rate against anything the band’s done. Still the new record is worth checking out (especially Prescott’s pile-driving “Blunder”) and Burma certainly didn’t neglect their legacy. Aside from the two gems previously mentioned, they hit on all facets including what is possibly my favorite Burma song of all, the gloriously muted tremelo-laden “Trem Two,” a song continually transfixes me in its sheer beauty.
In addition to a new song “Hi-Fi,” the band dished out the fuzzed-out “Dumbells” (a rarity off of Peking Spring), the anthemic “Hunt Again” from OnoffOn (if the band is reading this, please include “Wounded World” in a set list soon), and two bona fide classics in “Academy Fight Song” and “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate.” That set closer shows all that’s great about the band, a massively driving surge of emotion, a catchy chorus, all played with total conviction and purpose. Seeing this band play in the present is a victory for all of us. Us Bostonians are spoiled in that they rarely play much outside the city, but they have stitched together several dates across the eastern seaboard and selected midwestern dates. Go see ‘em.
One minor comment. If you want to hear the best mix, definitely try to station yourself a few feet back from the stage and towards the center. Roger’s not wearing his rifle-range headphone protection but he’s got his guitar amp on the left and in front of him. I was over on Clint’s side and got a very drum and bass heavy mix.
Northampton’s BUNNIES drew upon a fixation of mid-70s progressive rock, wisely eschewing the fantasy-laden world that prog is known (ridiculed?) for and instead focusing on the ultra-heavy riffage of stuff like MAGMA or KING CRIMSON around the Red album. Guitarist/singer JEREMY DT799* didn’t waste time picking out intricate diminished chords or futzing around with modal variants; he mainly used the two bottom strings for a savage boxing of our ears, while drummer PROF M LeBUNNIE was among the more impressive and entertaining drummers I’ve seen in a while. Check ‘em out via their Myspace page to see what they are all about.