Gig Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Benjamin Booker

If there was a competition for ‘Venue with the most stupendously glorious ceiling’ then the MOTH Club Hackney would win it hands down. Think sequins. And gold. In abundance!

Benjamin Booker

Sadly however, no such award exists and whilst I’d like to argue the virtues about the advent of such an honour, it would be remiss of me to do so on the musical forum which is Gig Junkies. Seems I’ll have to do some moonlighting on some other Interior Designs website at some point in the future…

Cow Bell

Cow Bell

Cow Bell supplied the ‘emergency support’ and I – along with what seemed like the rest of the audience were really pleased they did!

Mirroring the White Stripes in duet formation (girl drummer, quirky male singer/guitarist) the guys from the Capital offered a modern twist on 50’s rockabilly whilst combining strands of the B52s and Sonic Youth alternative grunge. Instantly likeable with hugely catchy tunes Cow Bell oozed the obvious confidence and contentment of a band that have been doing their ‘thang’ for a while. Evidently enjoying their trade of choice and delivering such gems as ‘Oh Yolanda’ and the haunting ‘No Wrong’, Cow Bell offered a great opening act and if you’ve not had the pleasure of catching them before, then you really should make the effort to do so – or at the very least check out their latest musical offering.

Benjamin Booker

The intermission gave opportunity for the ever growing crowd to peruse the splendour of the Working Men Club-esq venue .With signs such as ‘All Children Must be off the Dance Floor by 9.30pm’ (by order of the committee) in a gig which took place in the ‘Reg Millar Memorial Hall combined with a ceiling reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress, there’s a unique juxtaposition between aged conservatism and uber-liberalism which works much better than it actually should.

Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker made his way to the stage at just after 9pm and from the off it was evident that the bluesman was in a cheeky mood.

Benjamin Booker

Gaining 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 (this time the bass player), they kicked off proceedings with ‘Right On You’ – the first track from new album Witness. A little more upbeat and grungy than offerings we’d heard before from the NOLA man, it was still instantly recognisable once his gruff, soothing vocal kicked in.

Benjamin Booker

He then treated the crowd to a journey of new tunes from his current incantation and offerings from self-titled opening album ‘Benjamin Booker’. Favourites from his opening gambit like ‘Happy Homes’ and ‘Have You Seen My Son?’ were complemented by newbies but goodies like ‘The Slow Drag Under’ a grooving catchy little number and the mesmerising ‘Off the Ground’. Splendid!

Benjamin Booker

As a music writer it’s nice to monitor and document the growth of musicians. In 2014, we witnessed a young man who had all the raw potential and talent of a future star, but was still a little rough around the edges. Fast forward to 2017 and you’re greeted with a more rounded and accomplished artist. The musicianship and delivery a little more polished and a singer who is more relaxed in his environment. Completely at ease on stage he stopped a song 3 times – initially blaming the drummer, before admitting that he was playing the wrong number, insisted that somebody fetch him a drink from the bar (“beer not water”) and gave props to his two favourite fans – an ageing punk and a not so young gentleman who was his ‘greatest fan’.

Benjamin Booker

“Encores are bullshit” professed the diminutive American, “so we won’t be having one” and true to his word he didn’t. Once more the New Orleans song-meister delivered and then as venue mainly emptied he stuck around at to talk to fans, have selfies and sign merch. Most artists do this as a bit of a chore, but BB spent ages talking to partisan fans – much to their obvious appreciation.

Benjamin Booker

Great work Benjamin… Great work.

November 2017 European / UK Dates for Benjamin Booker:

Sun, 5th Nov – Het Depot, Leuven – Belgium

Tues, 7th Nov – Musik & Frieden, Berlin – Germany

Wed, 8th Nov – Strom Club, Munich – Germany

Thurs, 9th Nov – Bogen F, Zurich – Switzerland

Fri, 10th Nov – La Maroquinerie, Paris – France

Sat, 11th Nov – Zoom, Frankfurt – Germany

Mon, 13th Nov – Gorilla, Manchester – UK

Tues, 14th Nov – ULU, London – UK

Leave a Reply