Bob Log iii, That long fingered son of Tucson, brought a little something extra to The Lexington this easter and we all shared in the holy experience…
Three men, two guitars, a saxophone and two impressively complicated and detailed electronic soundboards take their places on the stage of The Lexington to create their very own kind of musical wizardry – this is The Jonny Halifax Invocation.
The three musicians appear to be warming up, practising chords and tapping rhythms while seemingly random notes are blown harmonically into the alto sax as the audience begin to fill up the room; but then suddenly and effortlessly, the chords all simultaneously come to resolution and you realise this is, in fact, half way through the first magical, meditative song.
Self-described as ‘Electrified plank wrangler, Pedal perve, and Word mangler’, the sound is blues based, experimental noise sound paintings; hallucinogenic, immersive incantations- swamp blues and cosmic jazz.
Jonny Halifax does have a fabulous sound hole and he plays a homemade guitar with no soundhole, which matches his muted vocal sound (sometimes he sings through his harmonica, sometimes it is played as if he were sitting out on his porch, watching the sun go down).
No rings on his fingers but bells on his toes, the guitarist in the middle keeps the beat and is the communicative link as the guitars’ chromatic chords combine with jazzy scales and arpeggios on sax and the music ebbs and flows, near and far- occasionally discordant- and then surprisingly and unexpectedly come together in perfect harmony and cadence, to the increasingly appreciative and growing crowd. Heads are nodding, bodies moving and smiles widening as we realise we are part of something clever and well, special actually…
The vocals and muted, distorted and indiscernible, the harmonica’s versatile sound alternating between, melancholy, joyful, tense and jubilant as the songs span several time signatures, notably ¾ time in a country-punk-style waltz. The dynamics vary from dampened, muffled voice through the harmonica, to over blowing on the sax to create weird and wonderful harmonic impressions.
Many musical techniques are in this music- a drone or ground bass appears in lots of songs, as does ostinati- they underpin the improvisation and chromatic ramblings which speed up and slow down, the communication between the three ever as tight as their guitar strings.
The eclectic audience are dancing by now; guitars are turned on their ends and shaken, the saxophone’s vibrato fuelled notes increase in complexity and speed as the Jonny Halifax set draws to a frenetic, frenzied and fabulous finish that makes perfect sense. Oh, we loved it.
From the wings he came, picking and plucking in a glittery black velour onesie, trademark helmet completely covering his face with an old-school telephone receiver to sing through at the front, the fabulous performer that is the one and only Bob Log III emerges out on stage to rapturous applause from the packed to capacity crowd.
Opening the show with “OMG Bob Log’s in London City!” he takes his seat and places his feet on his percussive accompaniments as he prepares to wow us all with his amazing one-man-band show. Yeah!
The songs roll past, fretboards whizzing, vocals distorted through the telephone receiver, effortless chords hammered on various guitars. This is alternative blues… surreal, utterly captivating and mind-bendingly brilliant. The feeling in the room is one of so much… fun! The audience know and love Bob Log and the atmosphere is one of easy congeniality- we all know why we’re here and everyone is friends. It’s just a lovely, happy, inclusive feeling.
Bob Log is surrounded by his ubiquitous props- his ‘band’ as he calls them – his dingy, toaster and of course, rubber ducky, which will be filled with liquor and passed around the audience for anyone to have a drink from. The blues chords are plucked, slammed and smashed out with virtuosic ease- and yes, there is toast because “everything is better with the smell of toast.”
The fans need no explanation or encouragement to feed the toaster- they are wearing Bob Log T- shirts and eagerly await the bag and a half of white sliced which when toasted, is flung around the room with joyous abandon and appreciation. Some of it is even eaten- Bob Log’s own version of the ‘bread of life’ this Eastertide.
The balloons come out- we blow them up, throw them back on stage for Bob to throw back to us and as each balloon is stamped upon, a mighty cheer goes up.
Glissando chromatics up and down the guitar frets and an ever-rubato tempo accompany this joyful madness. “Do you guys wanna get a little bit weirder?” Bob asks us and it’s a rhetorical question with an emphatic and unnecessary reply- of course we do! In this world where everyone is trying to be different and alternative, there is no one more so than Bob Log III- and he’s just so good at it- this Bob Log-style blues- a wholly original and ingeniously inventive interpretation.
Bob Log’s easy, funny, genial conversation with his adoring fans makes the evening happier and merrier than ever. He finishes each song with a self- congratulatory fist pump and cry of “Yeah!” He knows- we all know- how lucky we are to be here, in Islington tonight, at this weird and wonderful, unique and sparkly rock and roll party. Bob Log is the ultimate theatrical, guitar-wielding punk rocking bluesman.
With hypnotic riffs, foot-stomping rhythms, up-tempo beats and slide guitar licks- he really did rise again at The Lexington tonight.
Bob Log III played The Lexington, Islington on 08th April 2023
Support from The Jonny Halifax Invocation
Words and live photographs copyright of 1st 3 Magazine
Not to be reproduced without prior permission, unless you are Bob Log III or The Jonny Halifax Invocation