Benjamin Booker’s gig dispels all fear that Circa Waves are the future of rock music with this reminder that rock should not forget to roll.
This young man from New Orleans seems to have come from nowhere to take up the mantle of flawless solo rock artists few since Jack White have laid claim to. (Take note, the legend himself actually invited Booker to support him on tour). Booker’s current tour is to promote his self-titled debut album, which has unsurprisingly received outstanding reviews across the board. His rasping voice couldn’t work more perfectly with the blues rock genre he so aptly commands, as if he’s been around since its origins. But watching this guy live is an experience the LP can’t compete with.
His rasping voice couldn’t work more perfectly with the blues rock genre he so aptly commands
What strikes you upon entering the 100 Club was the sheer diversity of the crowd. Scene teenage girls? Check. Middle aged bankers in suits? Check. Media folk from Dalston? Especially big check. At one stage, a 55 year old guy was moshing with a 17 year old which – aside from being grossly entertaining – confirmed my prediction of how popular Booker would be amongst ‘music fans’. It’s a man singing the blues to some killer riffs (listen to ‘Violent Shiver’, thank me later) not to mention spitting out some relevant lyrics while he’s at it. What’s not to like? There was no denying that we were all watching an incredibly talented musician, genuinely in touch with the art he produced. Moreover, one who seemed more than able to hold his own amongst the pictures on the wall of such legends as Keith Richards and Alice Cooper, who had taken the very same stage decades before.
At one stage, a 55 year old guy was moshing with a 17 year old
Although not featured on the album, Booker brought the folk tradition of Southern USA to West London for a couple of songs. Initially, there was an audible groan. Not another fucking banjo. But this was less Mumford and more Jeff Buckley as the crowd were shown how rock n’ roll folk can actually be. A banjo and fiddle there may have been, but put together with an Epiphone Rivieria there was a fascinating explosion of a new kind of folk-rock seldom heard in this country.
Benjamin Booker, we salute you.
Pictures from Alec Bruce
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