A wonderfully intimate night at the Brudenell with Ben Watt, ably accompanied by Bernard Butler. 12 new songs and a few oldies from his pre ‘Everything But The Girl’ days, lots of humourous banter and even the odd tear…….what a night!
I last saw Ben Watt as part of ‘Everything But The Girl’ at the Hacienda 29 years ago. I first heard them when my mate Mike played me their ‘Night and Day‘ single…..he’d heard it on John Peel and bought it the next day. If Mike had something in those days I didn’t bother buying it as we were always in each others houses……but I bought this one….it was a bit special.
I then got the 99p Cherry Red sampler ‘Pillows and Prayers‘ and realised he and Tracy had done other stuff, so tracked down releases by ‘Marine Girls’ and Bens solo records. Bens always had beautiful guitar parts and been a story teller in song which I love. EBTG took off with the wonderful ‘Eden‘ and his solo stuff was quietly forgotten.
A mega career later (featuring stellar world-wide success and near death) he’s back to his quiet thoughtful best with a brace of new songs inspired after writing a book about his parents in the post war years.
Tonight the Brudenell has tables and chairs out and the feeling is quite like an old Jazz club. It was 15 mins into the gig when I realised my cheeks were hurting because I was smiling so much. Ben charms the small but intimate crowd with the stories behind the new songs. He’s been writing songs using new tunings for his guitar, as it aided creativity, which is why he had 8 different ones with him “Joni Mitchell used 54 different tunings in her career so I’ve got a way to go yet”.
With Ben tonight was Bernard Butler (who’s been producing the new ‘Teleman’ LP). His understated accompaniment was just right with many of the notes he hit causing looks of ecstasy on Bens Face. I particularly liked his slide guitar. One song ‘Matthew Arnold Field’ about his spreading his dads ashes in the woods made Lee cry and me remember I still have to do the same with my dads ashes….but it wasn’t all doom and gloom with a Spring song about ‘throwing the windows open and letting the bird song tumble in’…..
Ben played a few of his old solo songs (North Marine Drive is a street in Brid!) and to be honest, he could have played that one guitar in that one distinctive style all night for me…….He’s not one for looking back though “I’d rather play 12 new songs to 200 people than tour an old record to thousands. When bands do that, those gigs always have a feeling of a school reunion, great for the first few minutes then ‘What am I doing here!’ “.
So, 30 years after purchasing my first Ben Watt record, I’m now rather giddy with exciting about getting the new LP when it comes out……there aren’t many artists you can say that about are there.
The recent 6Music session is here
Bob the Chiropodist