Ben Watt is of course best known as one half of Everything But the Girl who have been on hiatus since 2000. He has been keeping himself busy though and is now also known as an author, radio presenter and DJ as well as a musician.

The support for this gig at the East Village Arts Club in Liverpool comes from Michele Stodart, otherwise known as the bassist with the Magic Numbers, who in the past have worked with Bernard Butler on his McAlmont and Butler venture. Michele has also for the past few years been forging her own solo career as an acoustic singer-songwriter and this evening is showcasing her new album, ‘Pieces’, a follow-up to her critically-acclaimed debut album of 2012 ‘Wide-Eyed Crossing’.

Her songs show a definite country influence which she says was a part of her upbringing and are personal and emotional. The new single ‘Ain’t No Woman’ is a beautifully wrought ballad which brings to mind the work of Joni Mitchell who Michele cites as an influence. Michele has the vulnerability of youth, but is maturing into an accomplished artist and it will be interesting to see how she develops in the future.

In 1983, Ben Watt, tonight's main attraction, released his first solo album ‘North Marine Drive’ and one of the songs from this (‘Some Things Don’t Matter’) gets an airing tonight, sounding less hesitant and delicate but no less emotional. Ben and Bernard Butler got together during the recording of Ben’s second solo offering ‘Hendra’ which didn’t make an appearance until 2014. This has been followed up a bit more swiftly by the new album ‘Fever Dream’.

Ben’s recent solo work is a world away from the electronic style which Everything But the Girl developed and is almost back to basics acoustic singer-songwriter fare albeit with a jazz/blues/lounge vibe.

‘Fever Dream’ was recorded with the band all together in one room, the same band he is playing with tonight. Martin Ditcham on drums and Rex Horan on stand-up bass are both veteran musicians and together with the legend that is Bernard Butler on guitar, Ben has the perfect backdrop for his more mature sound. The ‘boy’ mentioned in ‘Some Things Don’t Matter’ is now a man, with tales of mid-life with its responsibilities, losses and regrets.

A couple of songs from Everything But the Girl’s ‘Amplified Heart’ (‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘25th December’) are scattered among those from the two most recent albums with Ben moving easily between playing guitar and piano. His voice is sounding stronger and he appears at ease with the audience. ‘Nathaniel’ is performed in an assured way, sounding almost like post-punk power pop. The final song is ‘Forget’, a single from ‘Hendra’. Ben thanks the audience for coming out to see him and bounds offstage with a smile on his face, hopefully to return soon to beguile us with more tales of growing older and wiser but staying cool.

Set List:

Bricks and Wood
Young Man’s Game
Faces of My Friends
Between Two Fires
Some Things Don’t Matter
Golden Ratio
Winter’s Eve
25th December
Fever Dream
New Year of Grace

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