Mitch Benn and the Distractions

The Rondo, Bath

16th October 2008

Let's get the distractions out of the way first, Kirsty Newton has pale skin, long, heavy ginger hair, a large, generous mouth and legs that go up to her armpits with an ability to bend at the waist and place her hands flat on the floor despite wearing 4" stack heeled boots, oh and she plays bass guitar and keyboards and sings, sometimes all at once. And Tash Baylis on the drums was replaced by Ivan, who, and I hope he won't mind me saying, is somewhat less easy on the eye. However, the two of them don't even make one Mitch Benn, despite him proudly claiming that he's lost 3 stone.

Those who are fans of BBC Radio 4's The Now Show will know Mitch Benn's work; his often angry, sometimes sorrowful, always funny, songs on the issues of the day. If they follow his career they'll know of Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music, again from Radio 4 and maybe even Radio 2's It's Been a Bad Week. His stage show contains many of the songs he writes for these programmes with lots more, as he says "I have to write three songs for the Now Show and they use two of them, that's a lot of stuff you haven't heard.". For me his best stuff is that closely targetted e.g. his spoof on John Lennon's Imagine although his 'critique' of Lloyd Webber's musicals is equally good. Carefully crafting the tunes to sound exactly right for the genre without actually copying them (his song about the Lebanese 'celebrating' the ceasefire set to a surfing tune, Brian Wilson at his darkest, is a classic example) and he and the band playing them without a hint that each isn't their 'soul' music.

I could go through the set, song by song, alternating between chortling and suddenly being struck by trueisms, but will leave that for you to see for yourselves, but I can't not mention the Rap Macbeth and his final finale, his tribute to a great radio DJ and presenter A Minutes Noise for John.

Oh, and he's got some famous friends: