If, having not played live in five years, returning to the stage was already a daunting prospect for Benjamin Shaw, planning also to record and then release the whole thing was verging on reckless. That’s exactly what Benjamin did though when he was invited to play live in Austria early this year as part of donaufestival.
Featuring a collection of tracks from across his lengthy back catalogue, live at donaufestial follows quickly in the footsteps of Benjamin’s career retrospective, Exciting Opportunities – A Collection Of Singles & Sadness. The two records perhaps bookend Benjamin’s music to date, an eclectic blend of lo-fi, electronic and bedroom pop, all delivered with a glistening melancholy, and in the case of the live record, what Benjamin describes as, “a mini-breakdown between each song”.
Benjamin’s set begins with the scene setting No One, a gentle crackle of background fuzz is permeated by a simple waltzing keyboard line and just a slither of vocals, downbeat, raw and gently sinister, “no one can love you like I do, ’cause you never, no you never leave the house”. There’s something so bold and honest about it as an opening track, there’s no attempt to hide behind volume or effects, like Sparklehorse or Advance Base, it’s perfectly, imperfectly human.
From there the album slips through genres and styles with ease; from the lithe techno of All Body Start Feeling Down to the experimental glitchy wonders of Pylon Pile-On and the paired back warmth of Home. Whether this marks a return to live music and touring, or is a one-off moment of convincing himself he can still do it, live at donaufestival is a fascinating vision of where Benjamin Shaw’s music has gone, and intriguingly where it might be going next. Celebrating the release, today Benjamin has put together a mixtape of some of his favourite live recordings, featuring the likes of Radiohead, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits.
In the olden days, finding live recordings from bands and artists you loved was near impossible, so one of my favourite things to do as a teenager was go to the dodgy record shops at Affleck’s Palace in Manchester and paw through the bootleg sections. Here are a few of my favourite Live Recordings That Old People Like.
1. Spank Thru – Nirvana – From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah came out when I was around 14 and I bought it from Woolworths and it blew my tiny mind.
2. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere – Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Live at The Fillmore
From Neil’s Archive series that he was messing about with a few years ago. I didn’t want to force one of the 15+ minute tracks from this show on you, but you should dive in. Neil with Crazy Horse from this period (or any period) are something else.
3. Hyperballad – Björk – Post Live
My mum had ‘Post’ on tape and I used to steal it whenever I could. This song is so beautiful it gives me goosiest of pimples even now. Lovely version too.
4. What Will You Say – Jeff Buckley – Mystery White Boy
Phwoar – this performance. I don’t think this song was ever recorded other than in the live setting, so it feels like a precious moment never repeated, captured forever.
5. Lucky Day – Tom Waits – Glitter and Doom Live
Tune. I love Tom.
6. All I Want – Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles
Oh man. Tune. I love Joni too.
7. Roads – Portishead – Roseland NYC Live
Back to the 90s again I’m afraid. I love how the crowd loses it for just that opening chord. I used to listen to this live album on MiniDisc™
8. My Backwards Walk – Frightened Rabbit – Quietly Now!
My favourite Frightened Rabbit song. I didn’t even know this live album existed before today, so I’m a happy bunny. Much love, Scott.
9. True Love Waits – Radiohead – I Might Be Wrong
I know this is an obvious one, but this song was like a mythical creature back in the olden days. This was one of my Secretly Smoking Out Of My Bedroom Window songs.
10. Things The Grandchildren Should Know – Eels – Live at Town Hall
Mr. E talks about this recording a lot in his book of the same name, and so the first time I heard it was straight after finishing the book. Let me tell you, as someone who also has dead daddy issues, this makes me cry every time.
11. True Love Will Find You In The End – Daniel Johnston – Frankenstein Love
An obvious song of his of course, but it’s a pretty special finisher. Much love, Daniel.
12. I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That – Cypress Hill – Live at The Fillmore
You have to come back out for an encore though, don’t you!
Live at donaufestival is out now. Click HERE for more information on Benjamin Shaw.