LIVE: Brendan Benson, Live From The 5 Spot, Nashville
'Lockdown birthdays' are an event unique to 2020 that many will find hard to forget. So, The Raconteurs co-founder Brendon Benson’s, will be all the more exceptional as it was accompanied by a special live-streamed gig. Enforced stillness and bursts of creativity do not always make for a productive pair, yet for Benson the isolated time delivered his first solo record, Dear Life, since 2013's You Were Right.
Providing that familiar start to any gig, Benson introduced band and crew members alike to instantly establish the small audience of people in the famous Nashville venue. And while this may have been a celebration of his 50th birthday, Benson still possessed the carefree coolness of his youth as he appeared on stage with wild hair, rolled-up slacks and a vagabond swag.
Without any fancy lighting or stage design, there was nothing to fallback on to provide hype for the show, but any extras were entirely unnecessary. The three guitarists lost no energy in the intimate setup, with Benson even joking he needed a breather to his virtual crowd after performing ‘Good to Be Alive’ - a song he dubbed “the beast” from the new album. The only break in the vibrant electric set being one of Benson’s early tracks ‘Metarie’, which he performed solo in a show of poetic balladry.
It was in this juncture that there was a rare stillness in the camera work of the set, adding emphasis to the momentary pause. At all other times the constantly shifting camera made for a dynamic watch. It is a clever trick in this new live-streaming era to break the clinical feel of a stagnant recording and welcome back the charm of a performance. In fact, there are benefits to this new method of performance. Seeing the wry smiles from band members at Benson’s one-liners offers a close-up glimpse of the camaraderie an audience always knows is there in a band, but are usually too distant to witness the details of.
But in the end what really gave the show life was Benson’s relationship with his fans. At an event promoted as a birthday celebration, Benson and his crew ensured this felt like a real gathering of people. Through his engineer Todd, Benson was able to have dialogue with fans commenting live through the entirety of the gig, and not just shouting out the occasional message, but really listening and engaging with what they said. Benson’s fans feel very much like his friends and the importance he gives to recognising them, sets apart his show from that of any other. Despite approaching 24 years in the music business, Benson’s love of the game and the fans that make it possible is, evidently, only growing. It's an admirable part of what makes him such an engaging performer.
To hear more from Brendan Benson, click here.