Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
The Northern, Byron Bay
March 8, 2013
Neil Young last night. In Brisbane. Late, home after midnight. After 1am, NSW time. Today drive south, back home. Lunch, sleep. Wake and shower, into Byron, down the road, through traffic. Great Northern, check in, got a room upstairs, be prepared. Walk on the beach, fish and chips, balcony outside the room overlooking Johnson Street. Beer, wine, sitting, talking. Getting dark, street action ramping up. Taxis across the road, coming and going. Beer, wine, sitting, talking.
Downstairs, front bar, beer in glass, football on the big screen. Small crowd, not here for music. Beer done, into bandroom. Not on the door? Find name on door, stamped, inside, beer in plastic. Moon Duo. Barely visible behind psychedelic light show. Pounding and thumping, greasy guitar, eerie vocal. Pounding and thumping. Keyboard samples and barbed wire six-strings, drone and drone, solid noise, fills your entire head. Short and sharp.
Back upstairs to the balcony. Beer, wine, sitting, talking. Street action flowing, drunk, disorderly, cops everywhere. Toilet, hear the noise through the floor, they’ve started. Downstairs, bandroom, beer in plastic, BLUES EXPLOSION. Three men. One giant noise. Barely distinguishable at first. Becoming more and more real. Punk rock. Blues. Rock ‘n’ roll. Orchestral in its large, ungainly intricacy. Brutal in its delivery. Buffeted. I’m a cork on a stormy sea. Of rock ‘n’ roll.
Two hour set, relentless. Seen them many times before, sets like punk, short sharp song after song. This time almost medleys. Six or seven extended medleys. Songs become other songs. Mashed together. Lashed together. For comfort and support. Recognise four songs in two hours. Where did this all come from? Buffeted.
Spencer is stoic and hard-eyed. He is on a mission. He has had no choice but to accept said mission. He delivers with aplomb. He’s a coiled spring and he lives the blues. At this moment, he is the blues.
Judah Bauer is cool and calm and he plays the guitar like it’s attached to his body. Tonight, it is. He is the foil to Spencer’s madness, the Xanax to the crazy, except it’s Viagra, and Blues Explosion are rock hard.
Russell Simins sings a song towards the end. He’s good. And he drums. Tight and fast. Harder than any other. Twice as metronomic. He builds cement foundations. Deep ones. Blues Explosion build towers from them. They scale them and jump off. We catch them. Buffeted.
Yelling and screaming. More a rest then coming back on, than an encore. More power, raw power, Blues Explosion power. They cascade to a finish. Wobbling on unsteady legs. Beer in plastic. Ears ringing. Upstairs to the balcony. Beer, wine, sitting, talking. Ears ringing. We yell at each other. We grin big grins and rub our ears. We expound again and again on how good that was. We relive parts, over and over. We laugh and drink beer and wine, and we sit and talk. It was epic. It was gargantuan. It was inhuman. It was Blues Explosion. Baby. Yeah.
Samuel J. Fell