Review: Brendan Benson at The Button FactoryTweet
Brendan Benson has been plugging away on the music scene for over a decade and a half now. He has a level of notoriety, but has largely failed to really crack the mainstream in his own right. In fact, he seems to best known as the ‘other guy’ from the Raconteurs. Nevertheless, his regular touring schedule has made him a formidable live performer. His set selection is impeccable and such is his confidence, you feel that he could almost do this in his sleep.
This looks like it could be a necessity as when Benson arrives on the Button Factory stage about half nine – following an impressive support slot from blues rocker Young Hines – he looks tired. Perhaps it’s jetlag or perhaps he was out late the previous night but his hair looks scraggy and his face unshaven.
Any fears that this will affect his performance are allayed early on as Benson attacks the first few songs with vigour. The crowd, largely late arriving after a scorcher of a day in Dublin, nod and sing along enthusiastically. They look up at Benson in almost silent reverence in between. “You’re in one of those moods, eh?” asks Benson early on.
Hands (Raconteurs) proves an early favourite for the crowd, but is soon usurped by the fantastic Metarie. Nearly the entire auditorium joins in to sing with his emotional song of a lost man trying to find himself in the world. Bad For Me proves the most heartfelt point in the show, and given it’s part of his lesser known new material, the audience stand back quietly and take it in.
Benson has all the platitudes you expect from a visiting musician with “We love Dublin” chief among them. You suspect that he genuinely means it though given how often he plays these shores. He seems to know us well enough too. “You all enjoying the Irish sunshine?” he asks at one point, “You all burnt?”.
He rattles quickly through his set and it’s only forty five minutes before he takes leave of the stage. No one is surprised when he returns, though he left them waiting a rather long time before returning with Pretty Baby. Tiny Sparks follows, getting some members of the crowd jumping and punching the air. It could well be telling that his final song is Jetlag. It’s an excellent version though with Benson and band singing with only hand-claps for the opening part before taking up their instruments for the wordless ending.
It’s perhaps fair to say that the show was Brendan Benson going through the motions. The best thing about Benson though, is that his going through the motions is probably better than most musicians can achieve on a good night.
Brendan Benson Photo Gallery
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