“It’s our last UK tour date, so as you can tell, we’re feeling pretty wild”, Mutual Benefit frontman, Jordan Lee, shyly jokes. The small, relaxed crowd brought a sense of informality, allowing for the scruffy dressing, and the accompanying guitarist playing while sat on the amp, swigging wine from the bottle. Despite this low-pressure atmosphere, it was clear throughout the set that the band was significantly more comfortable immersed in the music than talking on stage. The awkward stage presence of the self-proclaimed “other insecure men” performing at Brudenell that night, however, brought an oddly charming and intimate dynamic to the Community Room.
Our last UK show of tour is in Leeds tonight! Thanks to the folks in Aberfeldy for such a warm welcome yesterday https://t.co/Rl1JNVQwNw
— Mute Benny (@mutual_benefit) November 4, 2018
The simple red and blue lighting, and the basic staging allowed for minimum distraction; all the attention of the audience was directed to the music itself. And while much of Lee’s work possesses a soft simplicity, which echoes the basic style of the performance, there was great variation in the songs, many of which taken from his new album Thunder Follows the Light, that kept the audience captivated from the soft opening synth sequence of ‘Storm Cellar Heart’ to the very end.
There is a fluidity involved with the production of Lee’s music; he works with a variety of artists and musicians, which means that the style of his songs, while maintaining his characteristic airy lyrics and melodies combined with wide range of synths, varies greatly. On Sunday night, his soft voice and acoustics filled the room, accompanied by folk-inspired violin, and indie electric guitar riffs, which are surprisingly complimentary to the chilled feel of many of the songs. These sounds all combine to form a unique, eclectic mix which is not to be slept on. When performed live, the layers of the music were enhanced, making them much more prominent and dramatic than the recorded versions. Songs merged seamlessly from the calming ‘Nightingale Sing’, to the more experimental ‘Written in Lightning’, making it hard not to get lost in the music.
While this quaint performance and awkward audience interaction may not have brought the excitement that many people aim to experience in a gig, this was the perfect way to end a Sunday. Seeing Mutual Benefit perform live encapsulated more intensely the beauty and tranquillity of Lee’s music, and the relaxed atmosphere was one very rarely experienced with such a respected artist.
Header image via Pitch Perfect PR