For those who don’t know, Benjamin Booker is a young blues guitarist/singer from Newahleans. His debut album is getting some good reviews and he’s getting a lot of exposure in the US appearing on Letterman recently.
It’s a sold out show with a really eclectic audience with young hipsters, mods, rock chicks and old blues guys. We fitted in somewhere between them all. Because of the buzz about him there are some obvious liggers here tonight as there’s too much background chat.
It’s a low key start and Ben, a drummer and bass player shuffle on stage and the sound is a bit woolly at first with his soft voice being lost in the mix. It’s difficult to accurately describe his voice with hints of the lead singers from Gomez, Sunhouse, and Stewboss, throw in a bit of Costello, Alabama Shakes and Ben Harper for good measure and you get the picture. It’s quite a limited range but it certainly sounds better when he reaching the higher ends of his scale.
They rattle through the debut album and stylistically while it’s all based in the blues the band lead us through country, Americana, punk and pure rock. The crowd are enthusiastic and a small but perfectly behaved mosh pit starts at the front. Live there’s a harder, rawer edge to the songs and the obvious highlight is the leadoff single Violent Shiver.
He’s not a blues guitar virtuoso like Gary Clark Jr and has not got a classic traditional blues voice but he is sufficiently different with a good batch of songs to stand out from the crowd. A thoroughly entertaining gig and certainly one to watch for the future.