Monday, November 12, 2012

SHOW REVIEW: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Judah Bauer and Jon Spencer on stage at the El Rey Theatre



Nov. 9 @ The El Rey Theatre (Miracle Mile)

Jon Spencer, do you know just how awesome you are?

Whether the frontman was frenetically strutting around the stage or delivering a blistering guitar solo at the edge of the stage, he oozed an effortless cool Friday night as the New York trio proved that the Blues is still No. 1, even in a city as jaded as Los Angeles.

Portland's Quasi warmed up the crowd with their fearless brand of indie rock. Janet Weiss' excellent skills on the skins and Sam Coomes' painful thrashing of his chest, hands and feet on his keyboards proved to be the perfect lead-in to the sudden influx of energy when Spencer, guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins exploded onto the stage.

Although the band had not released a new album since 2004, their inimitable sound invaded my home every Monday night for the past seven years with the song over the opening credits of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations." The 2010 reissues of their classic Extra Width, Orange and Now I Got Worry albums whet fans' appetites for a hint to what the future would bring from the roots rock revolutionaries. The group answered with the release of Meat And Bone in September.

And it was no surprise that tracks from the recent release, such as "Bottle Baby," "Bag of Bones" and the new single "Black Mold," predominated the set. Overcoming initial hurdles of sound issues and one of Simins' cymbals needing to be tightened, the three-piece seamlessly flowed from one song to the next. Besides Meat And Bone songs, they treated the crowd to a bit of "Bellbottoms," "Gadzooks" and a cover of the Beastie Boys' "She's On It."

No matter the song, Spencer easily assumed command of the crowd, initiating a round of "soul claps" and leading a chant of "Ju-dah, Ju-dah" as Bauer banged on his guitar. As Simins' cowbell entranced and Bauer wailed on the strings, Spencer frenetically writhed his leather-clad hips around the stage to "Get Your Pants Off." When they departed from the stage, the audience member next to me yelled, "New York City!" Perhaps in answer, they thundered back a few minutes later with a thoroughly mind-blowing version of "Sweat."

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