Packed out – the unassuming downstairs venue at Audio boasted somewhat a squalid affair for an artist deemed ‘one to watch’ by every magazine out there (us included!). But it fitted the casual, rough around the edges and modern take on the New Orleans sound Benjamin Booker takes such glee in covering the crowd in with effortless ease.
Booker builds you up with the up-tempo rhythms, he throttles you in to submission with songs such as ‘Violent Shiver’ and ‘Wicked Waters’ alongside ‘Have You Seen My Son’ developing quickly in to beer-spilling crowd favourites.
He may have the razor sharp snarl of a man possessed but Booker and his band can also slow things right down with the soulful sounds of ‘Always Waiting’ and his cover of ‘Little Liza Jane’ highlighted his passion and musical influences from the bible belt of America. His songs are always candid, confrontational and colourful.
Happy to down a bottle of beer through each transition between songs Booker is a blue-collared song writer. Creating lyrics and rhythms which ring true in the heart of the ‘every-man’ his beer-swilling only endeared him further to the rambunctious crowd.
The gig then became more off the cuff with long instrumentals and crowd interaction late on (coming into the crowd and wrapping the mic around people). Booker’s ability to connect with an audience is something truly to behold. He does it with such ease you would think he was media-trained (he most definitely is not). What he is, is an average guy with an exceptional talent.
Booker proved he is at ease with any stage and any venue, no matter how squalid. In fact, I think he preferred it that way.