[Live Review] Ben Lee

ben lee-10

October 3
Woolly Mammoth:

Earlier this year Ben Lee performed in a few venues to promote the release of his new album ‘ Love is the great rebellion’, and promised that they were simply warm up shows for the big tour in October. Now it is October and Ben Lee is back.

Supporting Ben on this tour is Brisbane local girl Sahara Beck. She has seen relative success of late opening for Ash Grunwald and Katie Noonan in Brisbane shows. When she takes to the stage the powerful voice that comes out of this cute little elfin woman is amazing. Her songs are emotive and at times serious yet she manages to have the whole room asking who she is. She has surprised and delighted everyone with her powerful performance.
Opening with ‘Gamble everything for love’ Ben seems relaxed and at ease on stage. He immediately thanks the crowd from coming out and tells them if they are here to be a part of the show and consume some art then they have to work for it, but work together.

If we get one moment of awakening of our consciousness during the performance that is a very successful evening in my mind. So we will work towards one single moment of absolute crystalline clarity, that will be completely terrifying and possibly humiliating in its revelation where you will realize all of the mistakes you’ve made and all the things you need to do, the collector. It will be just an avalanche of regret; yet inside that there will be an inspired single flame of hope driving us forward into the next song..”

He launches into ‘ Begin’ and it seems that there will be a mixture of songs from the popular ” Awake is the new Sleep” and the new album ” Love is the new Rebellion” the perfect break up and falling in love albums respectively. The music translates well acoustically and the minimal piano is just enough for the compositions.

Removing his jacket in the warm room, he mentions that he got in trouble for not playing it during the last tour and promptly launches into ‘Cigarettes will kill you’ and the room beings to sing along with abandon. Playing ‘ God is a fire’, ‘ Love me like the World is Ending’ and the battle song ‘ Victory’ has the room enthralled.

A rather enthusiastic audience member keeps calling out for Ben to sing ‘ Running with scissors’ and Ben confused thinks she has been announcing a ” Party with Shazza. Is that Shazza inviting the whole room to her party? Or is that like Shazza’s enemy pranking her – everyone party at Shazza’s after. This one’s for Shazza, where ever you are, everyone knows a Shazza. That’s one of those dedications that can not go wrong, sending this out to the Shazza’s in all our lives” and launches into the catchy
” Happiness”.

Switching between albums he eventually comes to the point of the show where he wants to just give the audience a moment to participate and sends the band off stage. He asks for some requests and gets a few obscure ones. Someone yells out that they want to hear one of Ben’s first songs ‘Red Slurpee’ and he replies that if someone can find the lyrics to it online he’ll sing it.  Amazingly a woman in the audience triumphantly finds it and Ben invites her on stage to help him play it, a song that he wrote when he was 13 years old. Next someone requests ‘Kids’ by MGMT and rising to the challenge Ben sings a beautiful acoustic rendition of the popular dance song, occasionally forgetting the words but still making it an amazing experience to watch.

With the evening coming to a close Ben states that he really hates doing the whole walk off the stage thing for an encore and he gives the crowd 45 seconds to clap whilst he takes a step back. He takes the time to mention that he is happy to see familiar faces and loyal fans come out to see him play. When he forgets the lines to ‘Goodbye to yesterday’ ironically the line ” this moment will never be repeated” the crowd forgiving laughs as he makes three attempts to sing the second verse, however he manages to finish big by the end of the song.
‘Catch my disease’ gets the usual sing- a – long moment that never fails to unite the crowd.

The evening has been an uplifting night, which is something that Ben always manages to do every time he plays. He is down to earth, calls on audience participation and always inspires a good sing-a-long. There is something about being at Ben Lee’s show that is almost Zen- like in the way he makes you really live in the moment and not think about anything else outside other than what is transpiring in front of you.Never over rehearsed or contrived the shows are always organic and you never know what may happen. It is rare unique talent and is probably the reason his shows constantly sell out.

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