Friday, March 02, 2007

The Hamsters at The Lights (Andover)

We went to see The Hamsters last night, on the advice of our electrician. I hadn't heard of this 'legendary' blues-rock band from Southend-on-Sea before, but they sure are energetic. At thundering amplification they gave us Hendrix, ZZTop and their own house blues, intermixed with Essex jokes. Apparently they are a most hard-working band, always touring.

I compared them in my mind with Chicken Shack - similarly a three piece outfit. Charismatic lead guitar 'Slim' seemed smarter and nicer than Stan Webb, although of much the same age (early sixties). As always, the bass guy was pleasant and unassuming and the drummer an animal hidden behind his gear.

As my attention wandered in yet another loud, proficient but relatively uninspiring machine-blues number, I wondered what Johann Sebastian would have made of it. I think he would be fine with the noise (he was big into monstrous, super-powerful organs) and good with technical virtuosity on the guitar, being no mean hand with the organ, violin and harpsichord himself.

I think his problem would be with the 12-bar blues structure itself. The master of fugue would say that by polyphonic standards the blues just doesn't provide a sufficient basis for a full creative development. He would probably observe that this is why there has been a radiation away from pure blues into so many other genres of rock, jazz and other fusions.