British Burma Chronicles

Mission Of Burma ONLINE


Thursday 25 April 2002


A Cage. Yeah, The Garage is a cage of sorts. But my "Soundcheck" impression got it all backwards. It's the audience that's caged in; that "bar" along the stage a part of the sonic wall that keeps the beast at bay while whipping it into a fury at the same time. And Burma? Never was the name more apt. Like animal trainers schooled in the Burmese jungles and accustomed to unleashing beasts in the unhinged bowels of darkness, their sonic whips lash our souls. Did I say trainers? NO. NO. More like "Tormenting Teasers". More, more, more lashes, PLEASE! Now raging! Now reflective! Now insistent! Now calm! Pound! Pulse! PUMMEL! Is there anything left of me?


The synergy ripples through the beast starting the process of melding it into a mass when the very first chord of Peking Spring is struck. I feel the weight of bodies behind me starting to surge forward. I know I'm shouting, but don't hear myself. More jumping, knocking, screaming. Now voices reverberate with Roger's "This is not a PHOTOGRAPH!" Still pretty controlled but ever more animated the beast coheres and reaches an increased level of frenzy as Mica's sink and swell lunges toward "What could I say to that?" Clint Conley


Intermittently I snap out of the group's grasp. Like a swimmer washed up on the bank of a raging river, I look behind me at the surge of the crowd. It's building, the waves are increasing. You see it in their glazed focus and arched bodies. During my moments on the shore I try for some photos, but it's nearly impossible to gain a steady focus. I look to my right and notice Jon is far enough over to escape the brunt of the surge. He seems a miraculous figure carved from stone. How does he stand there so steady, so composed? What wonders will he capture? Amused at my ineptitude I try for some more shots. This moment, varied yet virtually the same, replays itself throughout the show.

Jon and Sheri / Photo by Mark Kates


(Photo by Mark Kates)



Burma switches tempos and lulls the beast into a swaying motion with "Trem Two" and the hauntingly beautiful "What We Really Were." BAM! What's that? Oh Geeze, "with every raw material at hand " Peter Prescott's voice and drums jump start the slightly slumbering beast. And, yeah, we're literally jumping all right. There's still a certain reserve when Academy Fight song begins. My forearms hit the metal. I grab the bar and push back against the crowd. Hey, I've got the hang of this now. I kinda like this bar. It's coming in handy! I don't even notice the "not, not, nots" ending.


Suddenly the band just isn't there. The lull, thought evaporates, except an overwhelming thirst. Jon has a little water left in one bottle and I take a swig trying to leave him some. I think I succeed. He tries to go for more water but after a few moments gives up fighting against the current. I hope to lose consciousness enough during the second set to forget my thirst. I catch my breath and stare at the crowd, wondering, "Who are these people? This is wild!" Little do I know.




Peter Perscott/photo by Jon Strymish

Burma returns. Even more relentless with virtually no sinks within this surging swell from "Secrets" and "Dead Pool" on. Somewhere in here I completely lose it. "Certain Fate" lashes the beast into a new found frenzy. Flashes of hitting the bar and pushing back; Peter's voice screaming "Fake Blood;" me shouting the lyrics to "Wounded World". But at some point I find myself on my knees lying on the edge of stage nestled next to a monitor. I turn my head slightly and look up. Right then Clint looks down. Oh, Geeze, I'm conscious enough to be really embarrassed. I feel like a drowned rat that needs to get run over. I force myself back up. But the wildest was yet to come.


I don't know what it is exactly. Yeah, it's a great song, but "Johnny Burma" is a lightening bolt this evening which strikes that beast and truly torches the joint. So intense is the heat that the crowd goes beyond me. I feel myself outside those Londoners in a very odd way. This song becomes theirs, this moment a total creation unto itself. It is transcendent. Einstein's Day, with its reflective resonance, only punctuates more this Johnny Burma mania. Yes, Revolver is great and brings the show to a triumphant finale. Yes, the encores rev the crowd back up, with "1970" whipping them into a slamming a frenzy. But ultimately... Roger Miller


"We're all on the edge of Burma. Well, that's the way we like it. We like it too much!"



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All Black and White Photos On This Page By Jon Strymish