Jon Spencer & HITmakers Live [01-24-23] @ Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, MA

Jon Spencer & HITmakers Live [01-24-23] @ Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, MA

Thursday, 26 January 2023

It feels good being back at live shows after so long. My 4 month hiatus, instigated by a new baby, finally came to an end with my of my favorite artists playing one of my favorite venues. The Middle East has had a rough go of it these past few years, and even though this show got moved from the downstairs room, I think it can easily be argued that the upstairs, cozier room is one of the best places to play in the country.

Jon Spencer should be worshipped. There, I said it. But I think he should be worshipped in 30 years, because right now the man is too busy being an underappreciated living legend. How great is he? Well, when Marc Maron interviewed Steve Albini he specifically singled out Jon Spencer as a man who’s work ethic he admires. He knows exactly what he wants and knows how to get it. Another reason is that Jon Spencer is purely a music man. He’s driven by the art and finds it to be the end to its own means. Spencer isn’t in it for the money. He’s in it for the music. He’s had a varied and incredibly interesting music career that shows no signs of stopping. At this rate, the only way he’ll stop is if he has a heart attack on stage.

We had the great pleasure of interviewing Spencer some years ago and we brought up the idea of a solo album. Spencer thought he wrote better in a group setting and that he didn’t envision a solo album any time soon. Well he was wrong. Last year saw the release of his SECOND solo album Spencer Gets it Lit: a wonderful collection of bare-bones garage rock and honky tonk album, both strange and perfectly fitting his aesthetic. As Spencer himself said, for music to be good it has to be a little bit strange. It certainly appealed to us and we voted it one of the best albums of 2022.

But now Spencer is bringing his eccentric style on the road. Those familiar with Spencer know he’s the consummate showman. He brings the rock and the style. He’s determined to bleed on stage and melt your face off while doing it. I’ll just cut to the chase and say that in a freezing Boston night, Spencer and the Hitmakers proceeded to pull no punches. The Hitmakers are a barebones outfit, of guitar, drums and synthesizer. There’s also a man playing a car engine with some hammers, and I have no idea what he’s doing there except maybe to add to the loudness. Jon Spencer and the Hitmakers are here to crank it up and blow our pants off, so the louder the better. Anyone who has the chance to see this current ensemble, must do so immediately. Peppered with rarities, a JSBX song for those paying sttention, even Spencer was a bewitching figure on stage, ripping though all the tracks of his latest album with raw grit and fury. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll be at the next show in your town or drive 100 miles to make it happen.

Now, with that out of the way I need to address something which is that we, as a city, need to tighten it up as an audience. Yes, this is a rowdy and fun show, but there’s no reason why we can’t all be adults at the same time. I’m talking about the drunk lady being a nuisance, yelling at the band and the sky and pretending they’re somehow the life of the party. There’s no need to annoy people to such an extent or pretend you’re more entitled to enjoy the show than the rest of us. That’s amateur shit and it’s an embarrassment. Be glad Spencer was able to put on a great show despite this nonsense. For the love of God, have some respect next time.

Spencer & the HITmakers are still on the road:

01/27 Montreal, QC Bar Le Ritz PDB
01/28 Ottawa, ON Club SAW
01/29 Rochester, NY Bug Jar
01/31 Albany, NY Lark Hall
02/01 Hamden, CT Space Ballroom
02/02 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
02/03 Atlantic City, NJ Anchor Rock Club
02/04 Ridgewood, NY TV Eye

Comments are closed.