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LIVE: Benjamin Booker - The Old Blue Last, London

Well thank fuck for that! There are some genuinely talented non-regurgiative guitarists and rock and roll stars out there, as you might have guessed New Orleans own Benjamin Booker is most definitely one of them. We braved the depths (seriously, kimono and platform shoes?) of East London to go to The Old Blue Last and see Benjamin Booker and his many talents.

After braving the many faceted streets of East London I sauntered in to The Old Blue Last with no expectations about Benjamin Booker, I was sure I knew his name but wasn’t sure where from. However, after his unassuming entrance through the crowd and the first few progressive notes where he and his only bandmate, his drummer, duelled over slow menacing riffs in came Booker’s growling gravelly voice. It soon became apparent who ever he was, he was not to be fucked with.

I would love to take you through his set song by song but sadly Booker doesn’t really believe in set lists (though ‘Have You Seen My Son?’ and ‘Violent Shiver’ were particular favourites) and when asked what the title of his next song the audience were quickly and matter-of-factly told “I don’t fucking know, do you really fucking care?”. That ladies and gentlemen is how you talk to a crowd with utter despondency and the most derogatory look I have seen someone give since Sid Vicious saw Johnny Rotten’s butter ad.

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To describe Booker’s sound is nearly impossible because of it’s vast eclectic mix. It has notes of hardcore, rockabilly and even Eagles of Death Metal. Each one as ludicrous yet fitting as the last as Booker and his frankly outstanding drummer mauled the audience into a dancing frenzy, no small feat when faced with a bunch of industry folk on a dreary Tuesday night.

As the night wore on and I fell helplessly in love (not really, don’t worry mum) with Booker and his general demeanour, his slanted head and cold staring eyes as he wretched every word from his heart to the mic. The crowd were metronomically made more and more rambunctious, slowly moving non-dancers to the back as the floor of the venue threaten to give way under feet that had been resting for far too long, to sedated by laptop losers and faux-psyche mistakes.

That’s what we want from a rock star, not Alex Turner and his matinee idol wet dreams but a genuine musician who was happy to let his art do the talk while he walked the walk. Booker demonstrated not only an incredible handle over his instrument but his nuance in turning these attribute in to an art that is dripping with honesty.


Jack Whatley