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Simon Stokes at the Echo on Monday April 4th

It is surprising when you see someone, who seems to be in his early 70s, taking the stage and leaving you clueless during the whole show, having no idea who this person could be. He was presented as the legendary Simon Stokes by his bassist, and I was thinking,… is he some kind of underground legend?

Wearing black sunglasses, he embarked in a series of hard rocking songs, sometimes blues influenced, sometimes country ballads inspired, with a rare determination and an aggressive furor, to the delight of the rather young crowd, cheering up at each of his gesture, fist raising, sign of the horns holding with two hands.

He looked tough and started with ‘Head’ a drunk-stomping country song, which set the tone for the evening. He dedicated a song to Iggy Pop, and although I had still no idea who he was, I thought it was becoming more and more interesting…. His hard rocking songs had effectively some Iggy Pop and the Stooges’ raw side, accentuated by his raucous and angry voice and the lyrics, which apparently, contained a lot of F-words and other ‘offensive’ language.

Looking at him, you couldn’t stop thinking, but what is the story behind that guy? According to what I could read online, he formed a band called the Nighthawks and signed up with Elektra Records the same day as the MC5, and one of his album ‘Simon Stokes and the Black Whip Thrill Band’ was even banned in the US because of its offensive cover art! His songs have been featured in tons of movies, in 1996 he did a collaboration with hippie rebel Timothy Leary, and the Cramps recorded one of his songs ‘Mini-Skirt Blues’ with Iggy Pop for their record ‘Look Ma, No Head’, a song he played on Monday night (I was lurking at his setlist), and which explains the Iggy reference during the show.

There was more of these drunk bouncing tunes, like ‘Mystery’, and more of these pure old rhythm’n blues ones with ‘One night of Sin’, but one of his songs, ‘Down for Death’, was particularly striking by its creepy Bukowski-storytelling,… he was howling-screaming the violent lyrics in a theatrical way, more convincing than many I have seen.

He closed his set with ‘Hey You’ a exhilarating punk country number, but he couldn’t leave the stage without telling good night, and he did, singing a ‘good night motherfuckers’ lullaby, getting a cheering response from the crowd.

Setlist
Head
Mini-Skirt Blues
Infected
Amazons and Coyote
Mystery
Down for Death
One night of Sin
Hey you

 

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