Ever since I first saw Benjamin Booker on Jools Holland last year and followed it up by getting his album, I’ve been hooked. I mean, album finishes, straight to the start again, hooked. Several times a day.
It’s been a long time since someone has exploded into my consciousness and made such an impression, so suffice to say, when I turned up at King Tuts to see him play, my expectations were sky-high.
And judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, I wasn’t alone. The excitement in the room was electric with a genuine pre-gig buzz as we waited to see if the New Orleans resident was the real deal.
With Booker on guitar and vocals, backed by just drums and bass, it became clear very quickly that he is. Like Otis Redding backed by The Strokes he served up his combination of soul and blues fused with punk and grunge delivered with both a fiery passion and a gentle touch.
Kicking off with a frantic version of ‘Always Waiting’ and moving on to ‘Chippewa’ the mood was set. With Booker playing with a smile on his face and the volume turned up, possibly to drown out the football ground chanting from the crowd, the three-piece were on fire. Fair play to Booker though, he took the chanting, got the drummer to lay down a beat and went with it.
With only the one album to choose from, the setlist is made up entirely of the album plus a couple of covers thrown in. There was no chance of feeling short-changed though, blistering versions of the rapturously received ‘Violent Shiver’ and ‘Have You Seen My Son’ along with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Slow Coming’ made sure of that. When the band came back out for the encore with ‘By The Evening’ it was a perfect end to a truly magnificent gig. I genuinely cannot wait to catch Booker the next time he hits town.
Image courtesy of Alan Campbell © 2015
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