Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gig review: Benjamin Taylor @ the Globe, Cardiff

We hadn't been to the Globe on Albany Road before. I was pleasantly surprised at its aesthetic and its intimate feel. I was also surprised that they'd have such a big name as Ben Taylor playing at such a small venue.

The support was good. Karl Morgan, a Swansea boy with plenty of family in the house, kicked the night off. He sounded very good, and with the right breaks he will go far, I think. His cover of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstitious' was excellent. I think it's harder to sound good playing a track people know than playing your own stuff, so he acquitted himself well - well enough for Cathy to buy a copy of his EP from his mum who was in charge of the money.

The second support act was Roddy Hart, again good, but I actually thought Karl Morgan was more engaging. Some of the songs were good enough to persuade me to buy his album for a fiver. But I don't think I'd go to a gig he was headlining.

And, then, finally, Benjamin Taylor (rebranding himself after being known as Ben on his first release) took the stage, accompanied for the main part of the show by David Saw. For someone known as a fairly serious singer-songwriter, he was very funny, telling stories and chatting to the audience with consummate ease. Some of his funnier songs you won't hear on his records but 'Your boyfriend is a really nice guy' and 'Dirty' both caused a lot of laughter in the crowd. I'd like to see him do a comedy album, although I can't see that happening.

Lyrically, there's plenty to digest. 'America', a recent composition, kept me transfixed as I tried to listen to what he was singing. He only played three songs off his first album, and after he told us that 'Nothing I can do' was written for his mum made it seem more meaningful. Meanwhile, if you want to hear folk that's allegedly been inspired by Outkast, you need to listen to 'Wicked Way'.

As I sat there, just relaxing into the music, it struck me that there are occasions when you just know you are in the presence of genius. I felt very lucky and very blessed to listen to him sing. We were so close to the stage it felt like it was a private gig just for us. Given his parentage (James Taylor and Carly Simon), he could be forgiven for going the commercial route. But he's doing it his own way - his own record label, his own style of music. I felt we got a glimpse into a magical soul; what used to be called the numinous.

As he signed a CD for us afterwards, I thanked him for the show. "At the risk of sounding sycophantic," I said, and then told him that we had been through some tough stuff recently and that the evening had been spiritually refreshing. He was surprised as he said they felt it had been a tough night on stage. I said 'Well, I felt blessed' and thanked him again. Music, as they say, restoreth the soul, and I felt genuinely better when I left than when I had walked in.

Not every gig is special, but this one was.

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