With a new album released just a few days ago Ben Lee is out on stages again to herald the return of his pop sound with an amazing slew of fun new songs and revisit some old favourites. Playing at the small cramped Black Bear Lodge the crowd are seated and it has the feel of a small narrow lounge room when Ben takes a seat on stage. Eventually though he kicks his chair away and gets it kicked off, a somewhat drunk patron calling for the crowd to stand up along with Ben.
Opening with ” Big Love” the new single he mixes the set up with a little old and a little new. This is the first time most of the new material has been played and the acoustic compositions are rather nice, raw and inspiring. Being so new when he plays them he gives them a little introduction.
” Everybody Dies” and ” Happiness” are children’s songs he explains and are both sweet songs for his daughter and the child in our hearts.
The true genius of Ben is that he has the ability to connect with his audience with a sort of sweet innocent boyish charm. For a few bars he has the crowd singing along in an ode to Brisbane’s WiFi connectivity in an impromptu moment and making jokes. It is a rare talent to be able to unite hundreds of strangers, have them turning to the person next to them and sing with joy like the whole room are all friends, his music reaching out to the whole room.
During ” We’re all in this together” Ben momentarily forgets the words when singing about quantum physics and pauses to joke ” The great thing about quantum physics is even though I didn’t have that lyric at that time it existed somewhere else totally intact in a parallel World” laughing and clapping before continuing. It is this down to earth imperfection that makes him so appealing and wonderful to watch. ” While I am tuning up does anybody have any questions, they don’t have to be for me they can be for each other; allow me to just provide a container where you guys can just interact with each other” further exemplifies his ability to make the room into a room of love, laughter and new friends.
” Giving up on Miracles” he explains was written when discussing miracles and fate and his friend dismissed Miracles as being mediocre and not enough ” Well you Sir get a song” he quips. It’s a cute fun song but take a moment to really listen and the lyrics are actually quite profound.
” Triumph” his ” Eye of the Tiger song” is equally as fun and catchy but just like most of the songs on the new album they have to be really listened to several times where the layers of Ben’s song writing brilliance can be pulled back and really appreciated. For now people are just happy to sing, dance and clap along in time to the beat and they will probably go home and listen later.
The evening is wrapping up and Ben calls for a vote. It’s almost encore time and he could either walk off stage or just keep charging. The crowd unanimously votes for him to just keep playing. He warns us ” So just so you know you can’t have it both ways, when we end we ACTUALLY end ok?” He obliges by launching into ” Catch my disease” changing the words a little to fit the venue and joking ” She drank capita with er coconut water” and making it fun and informal the trademark triangle tinkling in the background.
” Now are you guys ready to let go of the past? Yes. Well let’s do that let’s focus for a minuet here” he demands. ” You’ll notice there has been a slightly shambolic quality tonight unlike the usual pristine, professionalism of the Ben Lee concert experience. I think we’ve made up for it with enthusiasm” he laughs, expertly leading into ” Goodbye to Yesterday” the second track on the new album and towards the end of the song he has the whole crowd knows the chorus and repeating it after him.
He actually finishes the night with the last track on his new album ” God is a fire” a reflective song and a more mellow way to wind down what has been over an hour of pure enjoyment, bliss and laughter. He has bought together a room of strangers and now it is time to calm everyone with the ballad and send everyone away with memories of a fantastic night.