Mission of Burma - Birthdays, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Mission of Burma - Birthdays, London

by Julian Paszkiewicz Rating: Release Date:

Whether it's for yourself or someone else, most people tend to measure a good birthday against the quality of pleasant surprises. So on paper then, the choice of this small East London venue for an appearance by Boston punk legends Mission of Burma couldn't be more appropriate.

"This place reminds us of the petri dishes we grew up in," announces singer/guitarist Roger Miller with a wide, infectious smile. Gone are his infamous ear defenders from previous outings, replaced instead by flowing locks of brown neck-length hair. For most musicians first active in the 1970s, this transition in head adornment usually goes the other way. For Mission of Burma, it's just another symbol of their continued relevance, vigour and originality.

Like MoB, openers Slowcoaches sound nothing like their name suggests. Other than a broadly similar BPM count and a smidge of dissonance, that's about as far as the comparison between the two bands goes. Still, they play the sort of fuzzed-out racket that was made for 45rpm 7ins played inbetween bands at basements like this. Theirs is the sound of The Fiery Furnaces and Beat Happening covering a bunch of Dinosaur Jr tunes for an encore. This is unlikely to be an original way to describe them. But that doesn't make them any less enjoyable. Quite the opposite in fact.

After the disciples come the masters. With a solid new LP, Unsound, and best-of collection, Learn How, both out this year, Mission of Burma's set is a healthy mix of choice selections from their latest record blended in with older tunes. While there is no 'Tremolo' or 'That's When I Reach for My Revolver', the audience are treated to flawless, resplendent versions of 'Mica', 'Academy Fight Song' and 'Einstein's Day'.

And grateful they are too. As they chant, bobb and bounce to every note, beat and chorus, it's almost as if the band serve as an extension to their collective respiratory system and adrenal gland. Something similar could also be said of renditions of newer songs like the jagged-sounding 'This is Hi-Fi' and floor-filler 'Donna Sumeria'.

Remarking between songs that tonight brings "a tear to their electric eye", it would be best to describe tonight as less of a gig and more of an occasion for the band. Aided by Bob Weston's live tape loops, tonight MoB's writing and passion in performance further cements their position as mavens of a unique sonic craft. Long may this continue.

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