Once upon a time, there was a lad from Montreal named Blacksnake. He wrote naughty things for 'Vice' magazine and performed in the Spaceshits, a nasty garage band. That band imploded, and Khan decamped to Germany. Since then, he’s formed a bunch of European R&B fans into a James Brown-loving army, released three albums, including one on the Voodoo Rhythm label and a split with the Dirtbombs and toured hither and yon, riotous activities following in his trail.

Even on a Tuesday his now-formidable reputation led to a good sized crowd at Ottawa’s Babylon nightclub. After a brief set by crunchy underground trio Four’n’Giv’r, his seven-piece band (an eighth member, his organist, didn’t make the voyage) took the stage. The outfit includes veteran performers from German rock acts like Haunted Herschel and The Dog Food 5, and one true soul vet, percussionist Ron Streeter, whose resume includes stints with Ike and Tina Turner, Curtis Mayfield and Bo Diddley.

They warmed the crowd up with an instrumental number before guitarist Mr. Speedfingers announced the arrival of King Khan, who strutted on stage in a white 1970s style leisure suit, black shirt, a necklace decorated with plastic crawdads and animal teeth and accompanied by go-go dancer Bamboorella.

Bamboorella cavorted with twin gold pom poms as the band launched into the title track of his Voodoo Rhythm debut, ‘Three Hairs and Your Mine’, then moved onto songs from ‘Billiards at Nine Thirty’ (’40 Birds’) and ‘Mr. Supernatural’.

While guitarist Speedfinger leapt, Khan stalked into the audience with a bogeyman chortle with a clear lineage to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Babylon can be a sweaty venue, and it was definitely heating up as the crowd shuddered in time to the music. With a three man horn section, two percussionists and a guitarist and bassist, the Shrines kept the soul music pumping as Khan strode the stage, occasionally falling to his knees in supplication. While the former garage musicians who make up Khan’s crew may not be as lockstep tight as James Brown’s outfit, they keep the energy level high.

The band tore through 14 songs before calling a break (Streeter pulled himself off stage by his own shirtfront, but quickly returned for a four-song encore. Bamboorella flogged Khan with his own microphone cord to introduce ‘Torture’, before the band ended the night with a charging version of the Saints’ ‘Know Your Product’.

A rowdy and entertaining performance.


















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