Friday 17 August 2012

The John Spencer Blues Explosion: No Bullshit Rock n’ Roll

Club Ziggo; 13 August 2012

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was a part of the John Spencer Blues Explosion.

I don’t particularly wish to be John Spencer per se. For a start my name isn’t John Spencer and the James Plummer Blues Explosion just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And there is a little too much pressure when you’re the name of your own band for my liking.

I am also not sure I could really replace Judah Bauer or Russell Simins. Sure I can knock out a pretty tight version of Wonderwall, but to quote my good friend Mark - Judah knows how to make his guitar both cry and sing. He also plays a pretty mean harmonica and let’s face it, what kind of blues explosion would it be without some wailing mouth harp?

No, I think I need to be more of a background explosion. The obvious gap I could fill is to turn this three piece blues band into a four piece with me on bass. They already rock harder and louder than almost any other band I have ever seen, so I wouldn’t even need to do much. I could be the Alex James to John’s Damon Albarn and Judah’s Graham Coxon.

The explanation for this desire is simple - The John Spencer Blues Explosion are the most badass rock n’ roll band left in the world today. Everyone else has gone soft when you put them next to JSBE, with the possible exception of Jack Whitesee my man crush tribute to Jack here.

The JSBE must like Amsterdam because we only saw them at the Melkweg on Queens Night, a few months ago (JV's thoughts). But tonight at Club Ziggo was a little different, this was a showcase of their new album and fans were able to get in simply with their name on the door. And let’s be honest, the only thing better than having tickets to see a great band on a Monday night is having FREE tickets to see a great band on a Monday night.

I use the term ‘showcase’ tentatively, as I am not actually sure what the purpose of the night was. The entry was free, the drinks were free (albeit somewhat limited and without the ability to buy more), and the camera crew set up to film the show was elaborate. An exceedingly pretty Dutch lady, with a resemblance to Emily from Metric, gave an enthusiastic introduction (in Dutch) from which all I was able to gather was we were about to see the JSBE and they play No Bullshit Rock n’ Roll.

I knew immediately that this exceedingly pretty Dutch lady, who I will now refer to as Emily, was a far more talented music writer than me, even when speaking another language. And I made a mental note on the spot to steal her apt description.

No bullshit rock n’ roll was exactly what we got for the next hour. The band made their way through a huge amount of the new album Meat and Bone as well as throwing in a few of their older tracks. For anyone who is a fan of the of the first 7(ish) original JSBE albums there is no reason you are not going to enjoy this one.

Plenty of songs still ended in the John Spencer signature scream of BLUES EXPLOSION!!!

Let me be clear on something – when I say that not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was a part of the John Spencer Blues Explosion, what I really mean is that I wish I could always finish what I am doing and just scream BLUES EXPLOSION!!!

Try it for yourself. Right now just yell BLUES EXPLOSION!!! with that John Spencer drawl and see how good it feels?

Now imagine the satisfaction you would feel if you finished that report you had been working on all morning and you could just stand up and scream BLUES EXPLOSION!!! Or you hand in that final exam paper and look the teacher in the eye and let out a roaring BLUES EXPLOSION!!! Anyone who has so much satisfaction in the song they just played that they feel the need to scream out the name of their band must be doing something right.

But I digress.

This was a night for the fans, with a lot of new material and a few classics thrown in. It is always harder for the crowd to get into newer songs and there wasn’t quite the same energy as the Queens Night show from a few months ago. But the new album has been a long time coming, with the last album of new material coming out back in 2004. Judging from the live performance they’re back to doing what they do best. No bullshit rock n’ roll.



*with minor credits to Emily


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. track list: Black Thoughts Feeling of Love / Gadzooks! / Tell Me That You Love Me / [unknown - new] Greyhound (Moby Version) / Shirt Jac / Bellbottoms (Original Long Ending) [unknown - new instrumental]

  3. Brilliant - thanks for the song names I have updated them.