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Mission of Burma with Bleeding Rainbow - First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia) - Saturday, February 8, 2014

16 February 2014

Before this show, it had been almost four years to the date since I last saw Mission of Burma. It was in the same venue, too, and with similar cold, snowy weather happening before and afterwards. I think it also ensured that this show was a little under-attended. This time around, Roger Miller didn’t make any comments about being thankful that we all came out of our igloos or something to that effect, but no matter as they played a short but very satisfying set spanning their entire career. We got everything from early classics like “Mica” and “This is Not a Photograph” to stuff from 2006’s The Obliterati (my favorite of the four albums they’ve made since their early ’00s reunion) like “Good Not Great” and lots of material from 2012’s Unsound, their most recent full-length. Of those tunes, “Dustdevil” was the highlight, but again they sounded consistently great all through the evening. I have seen them four times at the church since 2006 and they seem to love playing there and in all but one of those cases, there has been not so great weather (in 2006 it was 100 degrees that day and they had to stop their set short because it was so brutally hot instead of the famously non-air conditioned church). The biggest surprise was sound manipulator Bob Weston coming out from behind the soundboard and getting on stage to join them for not one but two covers of songs by The Beatles along with the rest of their encore. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of them coming to America, they chose “Paperback Writer” and “Rain,” songs that were originally released as the A and B sides of a 1965 single. It was a clever trick and though one wouldn’t automatically think that Burma covering The Beatles would work, they managed to pull it off.

Openers Bleeding Rainbow were a terrific and inspired choice and appropriate because their most recent album (the about to be released, absolutely terrific Interrupt) was partly inspired by the headliners and one could tell that they were absolutely thrilled to get to play with them! Regardless, they are one of the few local (or any) bands that could hold their own with Burma both volume-wise (they are also at times punishingly loud), but also with their material with bassist Sarah Everton and guitarist Rob Garcia trading off lead vocals and singing wonderful harmonies and guitarist Al Creedon cutting an imposing, almost James Williamson in 1972-like figure on stage.. I’ve seen them 3 times now (once each in 2012, 2013 and 2014) and they get better each time! Their set concentrated heavily on Interrupt as I only recognized one song from their previous album Yeah Right (the closing track “Get Lost”), but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it greatly!