After 2 days of rain and then the Rangers losing their 2nd in a row vs. the Devils, where does one flee for a pure overdose of joy? To Irving Plaza to get injected with pure musical pleasure by Ben Lee and his band "the soldiers of bliss."
Seconds before taking the stage, which had it's usual flower arrangements all over each mic stand, the song "Rainbow Connection" played thru the PA. That's right, this is the famous Kermit the Frog tune that we all sang in 5th grade chorus that still gives me the chills. And proved to be the best segue to the man in white. Ben entered in a beautiful white blazer (think Lennon in '69, think George Harrison in '71 at the concert for Bangladesh, think Drew Goldberg Friday night at the Allen Stevenson Spring Benefit) and engaged NY in an immediate sing along. He breezed and smiled through four tunes of the latest Awake is the New Sleep: "Begin," "Into the Dark," "Gamble Everything for Love" and "No Right Angles."
Ben as usual had plenty to say - including to the drunk dumbfounded teenage chick who slowly made her way on stage and just stood next to the guitarist (who didn't mind) but she needed to leave. The Irving Plaza security finally escorted her to the nearest vomit bag. Ben told us all that if we walked into the venue really cool - then we should just try and leave being a little less cool.
Ben dropped the band for a bit and did some acoustic tunes himself. "Whatever It Is", my favorite: "Debt Collector," a surprise cover of Ben Folds' "Brick" and then debuted a new tune.
This gig was billed as Bass Pale Ale presents or Bass-Taste Greatness or some shit - Bass logos everywhere. But there was so much damn talking during this gig that I almost sent 800 people in a cab to my pad to listen to a Ben CD while I stayed at the gig to watch and listen. Who were these kids in there? No one would ever get me out and to a gig if I was going to talk. I could talk on the toilet. I could talk on my corner - I found it such poor lack of respect from these duds. Anyway, there were plenty of fans in the house of Ben's so it was all lovely and all smiles when he rounded out with "Cigarettes Will Kill You" (or his "Drugs Don't Work" as Ben called it), "Song For You," "Catch My Disease" and "We're All In This Together." And despite the talkers, most of us were in fact there together - singing, enjoying the flower aroma and for an hour and change - being catapulted into the simplicity of musical bliss that we need each day now more than ever to counter all the uneasiness forced in our face by so many other irresponsible outlets.
Thanks Ben for making us happy. Thanks Lara (on vocals and keyboards) for always shining - and thank you Sir Ben for wearing white!