BEN LEE with LOW VS. DIAMOND and DAWES

Ben Lee live5 May 2009 at Richard’s on Richards

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There is a reason why Ben Lee is still listed on my top 5 favourite musicians/bands of all-time. May 5, 2009 marked the third time I have seen this Aussie singer/songwriter and he did not disappoint. Known for his humorous shows and incredible sincerity, Lee performed for a roomful die-hard fans at Richard’s on Richards in Vancouver.
Perhaps the reason why Lee is so appealing is his ease not only on stage, but actually performing for an audience. This ability to perform appears innate, and not rehearsed, like some acts. Sure, Lee has had many years to perfect this skill, but there is no denying his love for music or playing shows for fans.

Lee actually opened with a song I did not know (gasp!), but it had the words “ship” and “home” in it, so I searched it and discovered it is called, “Ship My Body Home” from his 1998 record, Breathing Tornados. Starting with an older song was actually a nice treat; in fact, his entire show was a mix of both old and new songs, which gave audiences a blend of some Ben Lee classics, as well as his newer material.

Ben LeeContinuing with songs like “Blush” and “Numb” from his 2007 release Ripe, Lee then performed the popular and infectious (pun intended) “Catch My Disease” from 2006’s Awake is the New Sleep. I loathe clapping along to songs because it gets tiring and a little awkward, but I dispelled my beliefs for that one song. Super catchy and just all around fun, “Catch My Disease” was definitely a crowd-pleaser.

The evening continued with Ben Lee bantering with the crowd and a few more songs from Ripe and his latest, The Rebirth of Venus. The band then left the stage and the audience got to have some one-on-one time with Lee. He announced that he has already recorded another record under his first band, Noise Addict. This is extremely exciting because this means Lee would have to come back to Vancouver to promote that album. The more Ben Lee live, the better.

The band came back and Lee performed one of his first singles (also from Breathing Tornados), “Cigarettes Will Kill You.” Probably one of his best songs, “Cigarettes” is still fantastic after all these years.

Lee ended his show with the call-and-response song, “Song For The Divine Mother Of The Universe” from The Rebirth of Venus. Knowing exactly how to close a wonderful set, Lee got people to respond and left some fans wanting so much more. It would have been enjoyable to hear him sing more songs from Awake is the New Sleep, but nevertheless he still delivered an awesome performance.

Opening first for Ben Lee was Dawes, a band from L.A. that had an Eagles-like “take it easy” vibe and sound. Dawes was actually really impressive; they sounded practiced and professional, without being fake. Second to open was Low Vs. Diamond, another band from the same state as Dawes (San Francisco).  They sounded Brit-pop influenced, perhaps a more epic version of Snow Patrol. They were also quite impressive and provided great music before the headliner.

In the end, the concert was pretty amazing (if you could not already tell). I would highly, highly recommend seeing Ben Lee live in concert. And I actually believe that he is sometimes much better in a live setting, rather than on a record. He is so interactive and engaging on stage that his set flew by and by the end, I was wishing for just one more song. Genuine and sincere, Lee is an experienced showman who can interact with the crowd without being forced. Next time Ben Lee rolls into your neck of the woods, I implore you to attend his concert. You will not regret it!

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