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Concert Review by Nick Morgan

Shepherds Bush Empire London - 10/20/04

by guest writer Nick Morgan

The first time I saw them it took almost a week to recover. So I should have known that four days sailing (as it turned out we were on a spaceship, not a yacht) and three nights sleep deprivation in the company of a well known Malt Maniac, followed by a few days in the Fun Factory, was hardly the right preparation for a full frontal assault. Now, aficionados may note that the JSBX have been rebranded by those pesky marketeers to the purer Blues Explosion – but believe me – the product is no different!

Starting with ‘She said’ from 2002’s Plastic Fang, to an astonishing ‘Down in the Beast’ at the end of the main set, Spencer’s tightly knit three piece beat an audience of mixed-aged admirers into a pulp of holy submission with twelve bar blues infused with a manic effects-pedal driven complexity – a brilliantly engineered layer-cake of sound and rhythm. Six songs into the encore he was pulled off by the stage management (I recall seeing this happen to the Climax Blues Band in 1973 – when their power was switched off by the caretaker!). Spencer sang, shouted, growled, howled and hunted his audience, like an old time Mississippi preacher. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had LOVE and HATE tattooed across his knuckles. And with him the razor sharp Telecaster of Judah Bauer; and at the heart of the band Russell Simins’ sensationally visceral drumming. Buy the CDs, watch the video – but to touch and feel the Blues Explosion you really have to be there.- Nick Morgan

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