Live review

Brendan Benson
Night & Day, Manchester : 12.6.2002

Brendan Benson - Click to enlargeWho the hell is Brendan Benson? A couple of months ago I would have been asking the same question. However, after a sampler of this Detroit singer-songwriter's forthcoming album Lapalco landed on my doormat and rapidly wormed its way into my affections, it's a question I no longer have to ask.
    Top-drawer tunes, playful lyrics ("I've got a 1980 Volvo, I get it started up and I go. It ain't a vintage Cadillac, and it doesn't have fins in the back." - from Good To Me) and a White Stripes endorsement are plenty of good reasons to be hauling my ass out to this tiny Manchester venue to see V2's latest signing.

Brendan Benson - Click to enlargeV2 might be marketing Brendan as a solo artist, but tonight's show is very much a band effort. Brendan Benson And The Wellfed Boys are five stick-thin guys who obviously throw a lot of effort into their shows. The songs might be classed as pop-rock, but that's such an abused term that it might put you off - and that would be a shame.
    Good To Me, current single Tiny Spark and Folk Singer ("She said stop pretendin', you're not John Lennon.") are all familiar, but on first listen, even the unfamiliar material like How 'Bout You and You're Quiet sound just as good. A run through Wings' Let Me Roll It betrays a songwriting partnership with Jason Falkner (whose former band Jellyfish used to cover Jet) and The Move also get the Wellfed Boys treatment towards the end of the set.

Brendan Benson - Click to enlargeLapalco will actually be Benson's second album. 1996's One Mississippi was apparently praised by virtually everyone except Virgin Records, who eventually cut him loose. On the strength of the material I've heard, and tonight's show, it looks like they made a big mistake.
    Lapalco finally gets a UK release later in the year, with Metarie sketched in to follow as a single. I suggest you start saving those pennies.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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