It was a low key build up to Ben Lee’s performance at the Adelaide Festival Summerhouse last night. Walking out on stage he commented that he was “thrilled to be here and he would compete with all the lasers of a Foo Fighters concert armed with a JVC tape deck which was his backing band for the night. Asking whether “are we doing this?” was a response to border restrictions which had allowed him to “conceptualise” the show. Asking in advance for some compassion from the audience as he would rummage through a selection of tapes which would be his backing band for certain songs. This proved to be very clever and the audience warm to Lee’s charismatic charm.
Opening with Into The Dark and Love Me Like The World Is Ending Lee put an acoustic twist on some of his well known hits as well as introduce Adelaide to a few new songs as well. Ache For You was great but it was the engagement with the audience that was the real treat. Being in Adelaide for a couple of days Lee spoke about checking out A German Life and The Pulse and the “physical and emotional trauma” of having gone to both those shows. Loved Cigarettes Will Kill You and as Lee proudly reflected that the JVC tape deck held up its end of the bargain proving to be that rock ‘n roll moment insinuating it would stop working at any moment.
Is This How Love’s Supposed To Feel? followed by Ripe off the same album went down a treat. With not a lot to do in LA in 2020 Lee has been busy and played three new songs Parents Get High, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll then I Was Born For This Bullshit which was dedicated to the legendary Michael Gudinski who passed away this week. Some clear and obvious themes of debauchery as an adult which he spoke of as some might be inclined to grab a beer. Having being caught out not rewinding one of his cassettes he took audience questions with one audience member asking him about his Adam Green t-shirt before playing Gamble Everything For Love.
Lee offered the audience a choice between I Am A Sunflower and Nothing Much Happens with the later being played later after any way. After discussing that “ethical dilemma” about leaving the stage and then returning for an encore Lee made it clear jokingly that there wouldn’t be any extra songs after he left, so make up your mind! The sing-a-long moments Catch My Disease and We’re All In This Together were highlights with the comical Happiness from Love Is The Great Rebellion album in between. Great show and we can only hope now Lee is based in Australia this year we might see him play a few more times this year.
Adelaide Festival Review By Rob Lyon