Mr Ben & the Bens
- Family Selection Box - Cow - Ostrich
I’m on an expedition to the peninsula of Birkenhead, on a mission for Bido Lito!, pursuing the best kind of surprise- a musical one. Tonight will not disappoint. Stepping off the train and wondering down the darkened streets, I eventually arrive at Future Yard, an instantly warm environment where the staff are just as inviting as the aesthetic.
Now, I’m really not meant to bang on about the first band too much, so I’ll put this simply; OSTRICH are brilliant. They immediately have the crowd warmed up for the night ahead with their fun synth-driven performance, underpinned by an obvious love for their craft mirrored in the crowd’s enthusiasm. Despite only having a few songs, they have a lot of range; from slow swaying tunes to poppy bangers. Leaving us happy, I go to inspect the ale list again while they change over.
After a little warm up, four bearded fellows walk out and start blasting alternative rock: COW have arrived. After a groovy intro, their set fills the room with energy. The band possess a distinct cool grunge sound that distinguishes them from your average alt-rock band, exemplified in one of my favourite finds of the night- Sick and Tired of Being Lonely.
Almost last, but definitely not least, FAMILY SELECTION BOX stroll onstage. They’re a funny trio playing a quirky set of songs about things like waking up on the wrong side of the bed. As the name suggests, they’re a selection of mellow bass tunes with some cool guitar riffs and soft vocals. They bring us back to a chilled level and set the room up nicely for the evening’s headliner, MR BEN AND THE BENS.
Ben Hall (lead singer, guitar and trumpet) steps out along with his crew of Bens wearing a uniform of black jackets. Earlier in the night, one of the bands had described Ben as “the nicest guy ever”, this really comes through in his stage presence. He has a lovely modest demeanour about him, only amplified by the band’s synonymous outfit choices. It feels as though he’s reluctant to stand out.
Each song has its own elements that sets it apart, some are more guitar-heavy while others bring in a bit of piano and trumpet, refreshing to see. On The Beach is this great soft tune you just want to listen to as you stare out at the ocean, it’s slow and easy and has me thinking of nice days and happy times. While Anodyne is just a bit different, it’s more complex and interesting, the band sings in unison while I’m trying to decide how I’m going to describe these guys. But I don’t think I can put them in a box, nor do I want to. Smashing through Mr Ben and the Bens catalogue on Spotify, it’s easy to appreciate that they offer a whole heap of music for anyone seeking something new and different. After you’ve given him a listen, my next recommendation is to catch him and his cohort at any line-up you see them on. You will not be disappointed.