Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Unleashes Lethal Boogie at the Iron Horse

Photo by Nataworry Photography

There comes a point during a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show when the music simply carries you away. You can fight it — though there’s no point to that — but it will get you, just like it got the audience Thursday night at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. The show was even more cathartic than usual for the always-electrifying Spencer, who said the band’s loved ones are at home in New York without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

With no bass, but plenty of rumble, the trio — two guitars and drums — stomped through 75 minutes of lethal boogie tunes, dropping a stinging lead lick over filthy fuzz-tone guitar on “Get Your Pants Off” and singing about the effects of a different flood, last year’s Hurricane Irene, on the blistering “Black Mold,” which Spencer described as “a blues song, kind of.”

That’s a good description of most of his catalog, actually. Though it’s rooted in the blues, sometimes distantly, his songs beat with a trashy rock ‘n’ roll heart. Hell, his versions of other people’s tunes also beat with a trashy rock ‘n’ roll, as he demonstrated on a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “She’s on It.” Through it all, Spencer swooned and sputtered into the mic, backing away to double over his guitar while co-guitarist Judah Bauer peeled off lead licks and drummer Russell Simins thrashed around on the kit. They jammed out on “Sweat,” Spencer shrieked like he was fighting the Devil on “Chicken Dog” and then ended the main set by coaxing eerie wails out of a theremin. The trio returned for an encore that Bauer closed with lead vocals on “Fuck Shit Up.”

— Eric R. Danton

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