Friday, May 25, 2012

Brendan Benson - Live In Dublin

I don't get a chance to go to as many gigs as I used to. Part of growing up, I guess. But there are certain musicians I will always make the effort and find time for. Brendan Benson is one of them. Last night was my 4th BB show (3 solo and 1 with The Raconteurs) and by far the oddest one I had been to. Very little of the oddness was the musician's fault though.

The least blurry photograph I took.

Benson is a quiet man and a shy performer so his stage presence has never been his biggest asset. He, quite literally sometimes, lets the music do the talking for him. Very rarely does he engage in crowd banter or rock and roll cliches. In fact, he played the first 3 songs of the night in quick succession without even acknowledging the audience. This is common for him and results in an unusual show but this was not my first as previously stated so I was prepared and used to it. If anything I would say he has even loosened up a little bit compared to the past.

No, the oddness of the night really came from the audience. For one, there was about a fifth of the crowd that was at his show two years ago. That's a big drop in attendance. I don't know if he was just riding the popularity of The Raconteurs last time, but the difference was stunning.

It was also quiet. Not in an unimpressed sense, there was cheering at the end of songs and applause to his arrival but once the cheering was over it became deathly silent. The crowd was polite... too polite. It lent to a lot of awkward situations leading to Benson himself commenting "oh, it's going to be one of those nights, is it?". Save for one rather drunk couple in front of us, there would have been no dancing at all. I understand Brendan Benson attracts the type of music nerds who alphabetise their record collection (of which, I am one) and they're not known for their acts of exuberance but this was just painful.

In the end we were only treated to a short show, somewhat understandably considering the circumstances. But despite it's lack of length he played a great set filled with a lot of fun moments like the song Jet Lag being sung a capella to round out the night. Not a bad gig, just a strange one.

Here is Brendan and his ridiculously model-like band playing one of his new tracks for a radio station.