Saturday, June 14, 2008

Concert Review: Mission of Burma, Paradise Rock Club, June 13

To use SAT structure for an analogy: Beatles : Wings as Mission of Burma : Volcano Suns. Back in the '70s, the joke was that one had to explain to kids that the Beatles were the band Paul McCartney was in before Wings. In the late '80s, when "White Elephant" was a hit single by the very limited standards of Princeton radio station WPRB, I only know of Mission of Burma as the predecessor to the Volcano Suns. Eventually I learned, largely via Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life, that Mission of Burma was a bigger deal.

Reunited for several years with two new albums under their belt, most of the original line-up is remains intact: Peter Prescott on drums, Roger Miller on guitar and Clint Conley on bass. Volcano Suns alum (and current Shellac bassist and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me sound engineer) Bob Weston has taken over for Martin Swopes on tape loops offstage. This was the second of a two-night stint. At the previous show, they performed Signals, Calls and Marches in its entirety. On Friday, they trotted out VS, which has recently been reissued. They warmed up with other material before embarking on their main mission, and they even announced the beginning of Side 2. They wrapped up with more songs not from that album.

This is the ideal victory lap for a band to take. While their noisiness will always limit their appeal, they have finally found the audience they deserve, and they earned respect with their spirited set. This was post-punk, not fueled by anger, but nonetheless blistering, and their was joy in their playing. They resembled Pink Flag-era Wire but without the arty affectations.

The question remains: Have they considered changing their name to Mission of Myanmar?

For the first time since moving, I was happy to live in Boston

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