With support act Moon Duo pulling out at the last minute due to illness, local boys ‘System Addicts’ were left with the difficult job of prepping the crowd for an overwhelming set by American blues-rockers the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. They performed admirably for a young band, taking the stage with confidence and treating the gig seriously. This wasn’t entirely enough though, as the mix buried the vocals so deep that it became little more than a screaming competition of increasing volume.
Preceded onstage by unassuming guitarist Judah Bauern and drummer Russell Simins, it wasn’t long before Jon Spencer himself exploded upon the stage. With his entry, the other two members of the trio suddenly took on new personas, Simins pounding the drums with reckless abandon and Bauern experimenting wildly whilst standing nearly still on the side of stage. It was Spencer himself who was clearly the centre point of the group, revving the crowd up inbetween vocal punches and an exhausting amount of thigh stretches. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hands within a couple of songs and the rest of the group didn’t take long as they worked together to reveal the extent of their musical prowess. New tracks from the newly released album ‘Meat and Bone’ stacked up very nicely alongside classic Blues Explosion tracks and in some cases even received a warmer reception!
The crowd dug the night, the band were enjoying themselves and the music was intense and very tight. Spencer even had the crowd themselves involved throughout the night, encouraging them to throw their arms into the air and screaming out ‘Blues Explosion’. This was great for getting the crowd in but by the time we’d repeated it four times so that his photographer could get a good photo, the spontaneity was gone and it became a bit self-indulgent.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are a powerhouse unit, delivering an unrelenting set of blues power. It would have benefited from a big focus on vocals in the mix and a little less grandstanding from Spencer, but it was blues at its most intense and it was well worth the hearing damage no doubt sustained by everyone present.