Dublin is still basking in its post Giro D’Italia pink glow when Jon Spencer brings his Blues Explosion to town for their first time in nine years. A hot and sweaty capacity Whelan’s crowd, nicely warmed up by the September Girls, have gathered to welcome the New York kings of garage rock. They hit the ground running as the three piece, tighter than a nervous sphincter after a dodgy curry, trade riffs and licks, driving their fuzz-a-licous stripped back, deep down and dirty blues, right down the audiences’ throats. They veer wildly between metal, punk, rock n roll and blues without missing a beat.
Tracks like ‘Bell Bottoms’, ‘Black Mould’, ‘Talk About the Blues’ and a cover of the Beasties’ ‘She’s On It’ are slapped into our faces. Spencer, in full skid row Elvis mode, drives the tribal hill billy, white trash blues onwards with his over driven vocal and dime store novel sense of melodrama. Slabs of dirty sustained fuzz tone blues are laid down as he keeps on hitting the audience like a scuzzed out speedball coursing through their veins. “Do ya feel alright?” he constantly enquires as he Whoops, Hell Yeses and Yeahs his way through the set and soon has the Dublin crowd testifying like they were at an old school blues revival.
As the temperature soars in the Camden Street sweat box, the tempo intensifies as the Presley-esque preacher man turns up the dial and hams up the performance. He declares his undying gratitude to the gathered fans with the exception of the “lasy bastards” hiding from the maelstrom in the balcony. When he wasn’t beating the bejesus out of his telecaster, he iss rocking the theremin like Jimmy Page never could. The quintessential B-Movie sound machine is wrestled and cajoled by the goofed up greaser as he coaxes manic melodies out of its spectral chaos.
The innocent civilians in the audience don’t stand a chance as they fall victim to the heady voodoo cocktail. As intoxication sets in and as the midnight hour beckons they have forgotten that it’s a Sunday night as they let loose and frug wildly on the dance floor. Inevitably they will rue their abandon as they sit chained in slavish servitude to their desks and keyboards on the rapidly approaching Monday morning with the sound of the Jon Spencer Blues still Exploding in their ears. But that’s the price that has to be paid for dancing with the devil on a school night and it’s a pretty sweet bargain if you ask me.
Photo: Ste Murray