Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – London – live review
Image by Toby Amies –
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Birthdays, Dalston, London
26 September 2012

Live review

The JSBX played a small London venue last week and we sent LTW writer Keith Goldhanger to get sweaty and riled by rock n roll. 


But the last time I saw The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion I got through a packet of Marlboro’ lights, drank too much German lager and danced around as Mr Spencer repeatedly asked “Who’s gonna lend me two Deutsche marks for a packet of Potato chips….?” YYYEEEEEEEaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!

……….it was THAT long ago and THAT far away and since then a couple of albums later, with a bit of a hiatus, a triumphant return with an album called “MEAT AND BONE” and now a small (teenie weenie) show that I’ve been queuing up for since Easter Monday (not really) finally arrives and reminds us all that everything the cool man says and shouts is the coolest thing anyone in rock and roll can ever say even if these soundbites are only one syllable long but stretched out the length of 3 or 4 bars of every blues riff ever invented, bastardised and spat out in a way that it still doesn’t sound over familiar or half-arsed like a rock and roll band of nearly 20 years might be expected to be guilty of.

From the opening introduction of “all riiiiiiight…..?” – A rhetorical question I assume (not a song title) but that does stop a response from the people crammed in this tiny basement who suddenly wake up, swig down what’s left of their beer and scream Yeeeeeah!!!!…back towards the trio, who are already half way into the first verse of the first song whilst the people in the first row are treading on each others toes and holding their cameras in the air so us at the back can see what’s going on through their view finders up there on the 6 inch stage ahead of us.

First song is over and before anyone can go WHeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy…….the next song begins and stops,starts again, has a little rest before bouncing back in the way that God intended when he invented Rock and Roll (well it was either him or Elvis, I can’t remember now) and all the time to a voice that tell’s us all to “come on!!!!!!!!!”, and we go YEAH! (again) and we respond because this is the “BLUES EXPLOSION!!!!!…..THE.BLUES.EXPLOOOOOOOSION!!!!!!!!”and so it goes on.

Without getting boring EVER, because this man knows what we want from a band and these men deliver the tunes one after the other, breaking strings (DAMN!!!)…and bopping down before bouncing up to approach the mic again because this man has realised that jumping UP and down sucks because the higher you jump the longer it takes to come down but to crouch and return …oh I’m sure you get the point (he’d only hit his head on the ceiling anyway).

Even when JS breaks a string he explains that the reason is because they’ve been “hammering away at them like a jack hammer”…which, lets face it you wouldn’t get that type of explanation from a bunch of kids from Windsor, and when he turns his back half way through a song to retune his guitar he doesn’t even have to communicate to his companions because they KNOW something’s going down and they KNOW how to carry on regardless and still it sounds ace and still they manage about forty different blues riffs before crashing towards the end of what must have been most if not all of the new album this evening.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – London – live review
Image by Toby Amies –

As the end approaches the Theremin is introduced that’s been hiding behind the small PA speaker all evening and if the concrete floor we are standing on isn’t already crowded enough the man himself has joined us going “DAAAAMNNNN” whilst we all go “YEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH” then he goes “yeah !!!!!” and we go “daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn” and his arm is in the air like an evangelist preacher explaining in the simplest way possible the language of Rock and Roll and we get told that the reason we’re all doing this is because “we’ve got the feeeeeeeeeeling” and that feeeeeeeeeeling is the feeling one gets from listening to the “BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS EXPLOSION” HEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLL YYEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH – BLUES EXPLOSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ACE -I haven’t had so much fun since I went to see Crackerjack! (although when I went to see Crackerjack I never heard anyone shouting “geeeeeet your paaaaaants arfffffff”……..)

JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION Play at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London on December 3rd. It’s a slightly larger venue than this one.

All words by Keith Goldhanger. You can read more from Keith on LTW here.

Images by Toby Amies. You can find more images by Toby on his website.

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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the '90s as a frontman with London noise merchants HEADBUTT - spent the '80s in 'Peel favourites' BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).


  1. I’d like to point out the reviewer has a totally insensitive arty-chewed to his subject matter and that in fact Professor Spencer said ‘ten Guilders for a bag of potato chips’ not ‘ten Deutsch Marks’ as described, the last time he saw the Blues Explosion as he was in Holland not Germoney – that was the other day off on the tour his band had, and as such, we the reader may not possibly wrest the truth from anything else he has to say.


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