June 14, 2008
That Was The Show That Was: Mission Of Burma | Paradise Rock Club
It is consistently tempting to lead a piece about a Mission Of Burma show with some acknowledgment of the band's age. This, of course, is due to the fact that few -- if any -- bands have been able to write strong material and offer electrifying performances into middle age (of course, the band did have a nineteen-year break). Today's elder statesmen of commercial rock (Mick, Keef, Pete, Paul, Bob etc.) are largely expected to underperform, and endeavor in excercises that only occasionally redeem themselves. But Mission Of Burma's remarkable resuscitation in 2002 has proved so artistically successful that it calls into question not how is it that one of the best bands going be comprised of middle-aged guys, but why is it that so few performers of the vintage of Messrs. Conley, Miller and Prescott produce -- and recreate live -- compelling, intelligent and powerful music? Put more simply: why does everybody else who sticks with rock music for the long haul suck, when Burma made it look so easy last night?
Thursday night was the first of a handful of dates this summer during which Mission Burma performs one of its two landmark pre-caesura commercial releases in its entirety. Our friend KoomDogg attended Thursday night's re-enactment of Signals, Calls & Marches and dubbed it a "kicking of the ass" in an email to us the next morning [read his review here]. At 11:30 last night the storied Boston trio hit a spine-tingling crescendo as it powered through "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate" and closed its performance of its 1982 full-length Vs. The deservedly hyped performance of the album front-to-back was the centerpiece of about 90 minutes of music that included two encores. The performers were loose, Prescott was typically loquacious and irreverent, old scenesters were in the house (and on-stage between sets) and Burma did not disappoint anywhere along the sonic strand from "Secrets" to "Fate;" "Weatherbox" got a particularly bracing workout. The encores included "Devotion" from Signals, Calls & Marches and highpoints from the band's 2004 set The Obliterati "2wice," "Spider's Web" and "Let Yourself Go." All the while the band hopped, howled, swore, stomped and grew sweat circles across their shirts.
Mission Of Burma continues its sporadic schedule of promotional dates for the reissues tonight in New York; we've listed all the dates we're aware of below. We shot some pictures of last night's show and you can check them out here. We're no great shakes with a camera, but this should give you an idea of what it was like pressed against the front of Conley's side of the stage with the house-sound woofers pushing the air so hard at pants level that our pants were jarred with each kick drum thud.
Mission Of Burma -- "This Is Not A Photograph" -- Signals, Calls & Marches
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[buy the reissues of Signals, Calls & Marches, Vs., and The Horrible Truth About Burma from Matador right here]
Mission Of Burma: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
06/14 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, NY (Signals, Calls & Marches)
06/15 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, NY (Vs.)
06/27 -- First Unitarian Church -- Philadelphia, PA (Signals, Calls & Marches)
06/28 -- Black Cat -- Washington, D.C. (Vs.)
07/18 -- Pitchfork Festival -- Chicago, IL (Vs.)
07/19 -- Bohemian National Home -- Detroit, MI (Signals, Calls & Marches)