Jesse Mac Cormack and Benedict Benjamin Live Review // The Shacklewell Arms, London

Live Reviews, Uncategorized
Benedict Benjamin

Benedict Benjamin at The Shacklewell Arms; 24/05/16

Stepping into a dimly lit room, I entered into a transfixed crowd, that was soon moved by my creaking of the door. The night’s support came from solo musician: Benedict Benjamin (formally from bands: Peggy Sue and The Mariners Children), who has a way with the audience that is both self-assured and yet unassuming; an interesting dichotomy as a performer. His remarkably dry sense of humour occasionally fell short on a few in the room: “That was a joke by the way” meeting greater laughter, “Exactly…”. Undercut by his affability, laughing off slip of the tongue errors as he continued: “Well thank you all for coming down early to see me and feel free to say hel lie – hel lie? Well, you can say that, as well as hello and other things over there, where I have some records for sale”.

Benedict Benjamin’s alternative folk triggered pensive meanderings as the mirror ball rotated it’s radiance about the room. A singer-songwriter, unabashed about his character, and at once lyrically relatable. His versatile vocals often take you by surprise, especially to the attentive audience that he commands. Ranging from the quiet to an impassioned pitch, as experienced on ‘Had What You had’. His voice is unlike anything I’ve heard before. Having walked into the gig with a late discovery of the night’s support I left knowing how tempting a consecutive night would be. (The Lock Tavern: 25/05/16).

By the arrival of Jesse Mac Cormack, the audience’s noise levels had arisen. Plucking away at his acoustic guitar, driven without vocals, to an audience near oblivious that he had started, he continued and broke into ‘He Knows’. It was not until the third song that the band joined. The set was organic to both watch and hear. With an almost a Pink Floyd aura about them at times. Mac Cormack has an ear for textures. There was coherence to timings and tonality; from the minimalist raw acoustics to a developed ascent of a full-bodied band; leading to the pivotal highlight; latest single; ‘Repeat’, with it’s constantly alternating tempo and gritty guitar hooks. The raw transcendence from record to stage was a delight mirrored upon the faces of all.

In-between songs Mac Cormack’s dialogue, although brief, was humbling and warming: “So lovely to see so many beautiful faces, so far away from home”. As the haunting echoes of ‘Far Too Into’ found shape as a set finale we were in plea for an ‘After The Glow’ encore. Disappointingly, it never arrived. We could have selfishly done with another London date, though I doubt the Montreal musicians will leave us anticipating a return for too long…


Benedict Benjamin:

Jesse Mac Cormack:


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