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Immortal Lee County Killers - Spitz, London, 15/9/2005

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 14 / 9 / 2005

Immortal Lee County Killers - Spitz, London, 15/9/2005


At the London Spitz Jamie Rowland enjoys a fantastic set from American blues punks the Immortal Lee County Killers, but finds his activities curtailed by the venue's late licence

Much as I love the Spitz, it isn’t the most commuter-friendly venue. With gigs finishing at 1 am, anyone who has to catch a train is going to be a little miffed if they came to see the headliner. Which is exactly what happened when I went to see the Immortal Lee County Killers III. But although the Immortal Lee County Killers are one of my favourite bands, I couldn’t be too disappointed with this gig, as the support acts were absolutely fantastic. First on the bill was one man band from Hackney, D-77. It’s a bit of a cliché to compare people to Tom Waits, so let’s just say you could tell this guy had probably smoked a cigarette or two in his time. He started his set by playing aggressive blues numbers unaccompanied on his guitar, roaring away into his microphone. But around his fourth song, he started using pre-recorded backing tracks; real thumping stomps which sounded very much like (I’m sorry, I’m going to have to say it) more recent Tom Waits numbers. But what really grabbed the audience’s attention was D-77’s curious zither/dan bau hybrid instrument, which as far as I can tell consisted of a single string stretched under a set of keys, which were pressed to change the key of the string as it was plucked or played using a bow. It was a fascinating instrument, and it had a great sound. The second support act was the Black Diamond Heavies, who had been brought on tour by the Immortal Lee County Killers and had never been to the UK before. The band is Mark Holder on slide guitar and vocals, John Wesley Myers on keys and vocals and Van Campbell on drums and vocals. They played more traditional blues numbers than the Immortal Lee County Killers. With every member sitting down, I was expecting a bit more of a laid back set, but was surprised to find that the Heavies blasted out their songs with huge amounts of energy, Campbell particularly looking like a mad-man on the drums. After watching this band, I was so exhausted I almost felt like I was ready to go to bed. Which was appropriate, as by the time the band finished at around quarter to eleven, I had half an hour before I had to leave to get the last train home. By this point, it was clear that I was not going to see a lot of the Immortal Lee County Killers’ set, but I decided to stay as long as possible to see some of this incredible live band in action. Opening their set with ‘Turn on the Panther’, the first track from their new album ‘These Bones Will Rise to Love You Again’, the band was a whirlwind of noise, aggression, psychedelic keys and raw soul. Behind them on the back wall, a projector played images to fit each song, which really added to the atmosphere of the show. ‘…Panther’ was followed by the Killers’ classic, ‘Boom Boom’, a storming number which really got the crowd excited. Vocalist Chetley Weise managed to keep his guitar sounding record perfect, even as he leaped around and did scissor kicks into the air. John Wesley Myers, hopping over from the Black Diamond Heavies, whipped up a psychedelic storm from his Fender Rhodes piano while Toko the Drifter went wild on the drums. After slowing down for a traditional blues cover (a song which I’m afraid I didn’t recognise), the boys turned up the aggro again for their cover of Pussy Galore’s ‘Revolution Summer’, the band enveloping the audience in their awesome sound. Looking at my watch, I realised it was probably time I left, but I just couldn’t tear myself away from this magnetic band. I decided to stay for one more song. And what a song. Joining the Immortal Lee County Killers on stage, playing harmonica, was Mark ‘Porkchop’ Holder of the Black Diamond Heavies, creating a kind of Killers/Heavies super-group for one song. Always the showman, Toko the Drifter tied a cloth over his eyes and played blind. The song was a five minute beauty, with Holder proving to be not only an accomplished slide-guitarist, but also fantastic with a harmonica, complimenting the keys and guitar perfectly while Weise howled as if possessed by John Lee Hooker himself. And Toko, even without his eyes, kept perfect rhythm. This song could easily have been a set closer, which made it all the more painful for me to leave as I knew that it would have to be topped later on, and I’m sure that it was. As I walked out onto the street, the band fading away into the night, I cursed the organisers at the Spitz, but at the same time counted myself lucky to have seen even as little as I did of such a fantastic show.

Picture Gallery:-
Immortal Lee County Killers - Spitz, London, 15/9/2005

Immortal Lee County Killers - Spitz, London, 15/9/2005

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Interview (2005)
Immortal Lee County Killers - Interview
Now in their third incarnation the Immortal Lee County Killers have just released a new album 'These Bones Will Rise to Love You Again'. In London Mark Rowland chats to singer Chetley Weis about it and the jazz greats.

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These Bones Will Rise To Love You Again (2005)
Dark latest album from Alabama blues punks Immortal Lee County Killers, given a psychedelic twist by the addition of an electric piano and organ

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