Gig Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Benjamin Booker

Academy 3 Brum played home to our latest Gig Junkies excursion and this time it was a trip to see the much hyped Benjamin Booker who’d come to visit all the way from NOLA.

A lot smaller than its big brothers and sparsely populated with little more than 100 people in attendance, it mattered not a jot as there was that Saturday night vibe and everybody seemed up for it. The age range was really eclectic which was a little suprising. A couple of young kids were knocking about with their parents in tow and there were a number of people who were well into their 70’s. Obvious muso’s one and all.

Annette Berlin

Annette Berlin provided support. A pretty girl, wearing a nice flowery dress and curly hair her looked highlighted the antipathies of her style of music which included power chords and discords a plenty! Describing herself and her drum playing partner in crime as ‘Two-headed grungy post rock band’ the singer treated the audience to her own unique blend of Germanic post punk angst which was not dissimilar to Sonic Youth and Courtney Love.

Benjamin Booker

It wasn’t the most enigmatic of stage entrances for Mr Booker. With the music fading in and out trying to catch that ‘right moment’ the diminutive songmeister ambled onto the stage and then started tuning up his guitar. Isn’t that what roadies are for? However, with guitar tuned and his drummer kicking off proceedings with an opening drum solo, things got interesting. Really interesting.

Benjamin Booker

Without an introduction, Benjamin kicked things off with a high tempo opening, and I was instantly struck with his shouty gravelly vocal. Soft yet strong. Tuneful yet rough, whilst delivering his own unique blend of what I’d describe as grunge rock n roll.

Benjamin Booker

When he spoke was really softly spoken. I mean REALLY quietly spoken, almost to the point of being a little shy. He went on to introduce his ‘friends’ who also happened to accompany him on the drums and bass and then BOOM, back into it and more pounding rock.

Benjamin Booker

Showing his adaptability and the fact that he is still true to his Southern routes, he introduced a slower more melodic interlude with a number of beautiful songs. Out came the fiddle and a mandolin, as well as another can of carlsberg and he delivered a unique version of 12 bar blues, perfectly delivered with his glorious rasping vocal.

You can see why the 25 year old from New Orleans has been receiving plaudits and has just finished touring with Jack White. Not only is he musically and vocally excellent. Not only does he have a great array of catchy songs but he also has a certain mysticism about him. Many times throughout the set he would simply stop playing and stare at the audience. It was almost menacing, Hendrix like.

Benjamin Booker

“Fucking Kidderminster in the house” shouted an exburant vocalist (after finally getting the pronunciation right) which was greeted by the roudy bunch of well wishers that had obviously met the singer prior to the gig and made such arrangements. He went on to finish on ‘Have You Seen My Son’ – and choreographed or not, there was definitely a bit of a Jimi vibe going on as he made his way to his hands and knees hypnotically watching his guitar spin round and round and then took the opportunity to do his own bit of crowd surfing. He obviously hadn’t been reading the signs.

At the end of the marathon finale he disappeared from the stage and then was back in a flash to dish out the remainder of his rider in the shape of a crate of Carlsberg to the appreciation of the thirsty mosh pit.

Chances are you’ve not heard a great deal (if anything) of Benjamin Booker, but if this performance was anything to go buy, it’s only a matter of time before you do.

Benjamin Booker performing ‘Violent Shiver’ on David Letterman

Set List

Always Waiting
Old Hearts
Happy Homes
Sppon Out My Eyeballs
I Though I Head You Screaming
Slow Coming
Violent Shiver
Have You Seen My Son

One Response to “Benjamin Booker + Annette Berlin at the Academy 3, Birmingham, UK – 6th September 2014”

  1. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Benjamin Booker + Cow Bell at MOTH Club, Hackney, London, UK – 4th July 2017 Says:

    […] an extra member of the team since we’d last reviewed him in 2014 at the Academy Brum and continuing the trend started by the support act – having a prominent member of the fairer sex […]

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