The Brendan Benson moment

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Brendan Benson at The Cockpit, Leeds

A moment: American singer, songwriter and part time member of The Raconteurs Brendan Benson is buzzing through a second cover of the sixty minute set which is the fourth song of a six number encore when I'm taken by a glint from a ring on his left hand that seems as new an addition as the curl headed thin man's smile.

It is a wedding ring and Brendan Benson is happy.

Previously Benson has cut a figure as one of the most miserable men in pop drawing a stark contrast to the up beat Gram Parson heavy Cosmic American Music he has played for four solo albums and two as equal partner to Jack White.

Blazing through songs new and old with something approaching, no, clearly with a smile on his face Benson's merriment continues the contradictions at the heart of his music. He delves into his first album for Sittin' Pretty which is an upbeat number about minor S&M and revisits - albeit in a less obviously introspective way - definitive track Matarie which drops the lengthy description of a lonely night at home but keeps the melodramatic rejection that forms the basis of his songwriting style.

He sings it with a smile though and the glint of ring suggests it is the smile of a man flicking through an old diary with a happy reminisce. "These are the songs of heartbreak I used to know," they seem to say, "but I'm through all that."

A creative singer songwriter with the pop sensibilities if Paul McCartney had an upbringing of The Byrds his next move becomes very interesting indeed.

For now though there are reminiscence rather than urgency and a sense that not all guys who pick up guitars to sing their woes are doomed to unhappy endings.

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, October 15th, 2009

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