Burma goes for broke
What was once an inconceivable notion - that Mission of Burma, one of Boston’s most influential if short-lived punk bands, would someday return to the stage for a celebrated second act - has, amazingly, become a regular, if not exactly routine, occurrence.
Since reuniting in 2002 (with Bob Weston replacing sound effects/tape loop guru Martin Swope), Burma has been back longer than its original ’79-’83 slash-and-burn across the sky lasted. The band has released three albums during this span - two more than the old Burma managed before flaming out after guitarist Roger Miller developed tinnitus due to the outfit’s fearsomely loud shows.
“The Sound, The Speed, The Light’’ is Burma’s latest, and it sounds as if the foursome never went away. Are they older? Yes. Wiser? Perhaps. Softer? If Friday night’s barely tamed chaos at the Paradise was any indication, that would be a resounding no.
Mission of Burma is not content to merely dwell on past glories. As evidenced by the first of two nights at the Paradise, the band’s approach to making artfully angular, turbulent rock music remains rooted in epic discontent. Perhaps that’s why it opened by tearing off four searing songs from the most recent albums before getting to golden oldies like “Peking Spring’’ and the encore reading of “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver.’’
Burma came out firing on all cylinders - Miller’s slashing guitar chords underpinned by Clint Conley’s fibrous bass and drummer Peter Prescott’s primal beats. The night’s opener, “Setup’’ bristled with corrosive energy.
Judging by its title, you might believe “1,2,3, Partyy!’’ was a beach-party rave-up. You’d be wrong, of course - unless said bash was held at the Jam’s house with overdriven guitars, overfed amplifiers, and a stack of Gang of Four records. Then, before you could blink, “Possession’’ and “Blunder’’ roared past. A brand new, as-yet unreleased number, “Hi Fi,’’ further affirmed Burma’s desire to blaze new trails.
The Konks opened with a steamrolling set built on the kind of pummeling, gleeful power that happens when MC5-style garage-punk meets a Bo Diddley beat.