[ATTENDED: February 10, 2017] Marco Benevento
Back in August I saw Marco Benevento open for The Claypool-Lennon Delirium. I didn’t know Marco, but his show was so much fun I promised myself I’d see him again. So I was pretty psyched to see that he was playing at this venue.
Marco’s show back in August was just so much fun–I had arrived late, after being caught in traffic, and within minutes he had totally uplifted my mood.
So I was thrilled to find the Ardmore such a small venue where I could get up so close–check out the bottom of the page for the up close look at his modified piano. And when he show began, I was right up at the front of the stage.
In addition to Marco, who is a fantastic entertainer, his band consists of drummer Andy Borger (whose drum set includes a cowbell and what looks like the alarm bell from a school) and my new favorite bassist Karina Rykman. It was actually Rykman who first won me over back in August because she was just so happy. I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone have so much joy playing on stage before. And this show was exactly the same. Of course it helps that she’s a great bassist with an amazing sound. She doesn’t do a lot of fancy stuff, but her groove is spot on.
The three of them came out and started playing the suite from The Story of Fred Short. It’s a series of seven interlocking songs with a great groove and a lot of room to jam. I walked in the middle of this suite when I saw them this summer and I was really excited to hear it again. I love the bass lines and, in this case, the whistle in “Walking with Tyrone.”
The first few songs segue seamlessly into one another and when “I Can’t See the Light” started, he got off of the piano bench and came over to the edge of the stage, where he put his hand on my head and the head of the person next to me and hopped down into the audience. He danced with us for thirty seconds and then I helped him back up on stage and he resumed the song. Now THAT’s how to start a show! And then Karina got to play a great fuzz bass line. I also love the dramatic shift in pace when “Stay in Line” gets to the rocking middle section where you can see Marco tinkering with his piano. He’s got effects pedals on attached to the piano as well as a laptop and small keyboard on top as well.
After playing the “Story of Fred Short” suite, Marco told us about his Pledge Music campaign (which has just ended). One of the rewards was to write a set list for a show and, the folks next to me in the audience had pledged enough to do so for this show! So that was a lot of fun–I was delighted that she was wearing the same striped pants that Marco and Karina wore last time I saw them (although this show the band was all in white). The first song on her list was “If I Get to See You at All” a song they hadn’t played all tour.
They followed this by a great extended jam of “RISD.” During the show there were three of four guys with very large cameras, walking around, filming the show. They were pretty obtrusive, climbing on and around the stage. One guy was swooping in, presumably videotaping the whole thing (I could see his videoscreen). Another guy pushed his way in front of us during this song and was taking lots of pictures up close (and, annoyingly, was looking at them for a pretty long time afterwards while blocking everyone’s view–I maintain that I’m fairly unobtrusive with my phone). But when he started air pianoing along to this song, I knew that he was a fan and not just a guy taking pictures.
Then he told us that they were going to play a cover of “Heartbeats” by The Knife (I think more people might know the José González version better). [I didn’t realize this at the time, but Marco released an album of instrumental covers a while back which included this song (as well as songs by My Morning Jacket and Beck among others)]. He introduced it: “Ladies, it’s time to find your fella. Fellas, its time to find your lady. Ladies its time to find your lady. Fellas its time to find your fella.” And man did it sound great.
Marco played the vocal melody and Karina played an amazingly deep bass and they jammed it out for ages. The audience was really into it and you could tell the band was really enjoying themselves. A few times Karina dropped out and let Marco take off, and then every time that Karina came back in she brought a huge bass rumble–like this one. And when it was over even Marco was impressed by the energy: “Holy shit! Goodnight! Wow, that was really fun you guys.”
They followed that with a brand new song (which I assume wasn’t requested, right?). And then a great fun sing-along “Da da da da da aw yeah.” This led to Andy Borger doing a drum solo which was certainly fun. But it was even more fun when the audience spontaneously started singing the “da da da da” part–which got Marco really happy and kept the solo going even longer.
This song segued into “Limbs of a Pine.” I was intrigued by this song because on the album, there’s a female singer, but live, he played her vocal and sang along with her.
And then Karina got to play a fuzzy bass solo.
When I saw Marco last, I was thrilled when he climbed on his piano, sand a bit and then leapt off. I’d seen pictures that made me think this was a part of the show, so I was all excited for him to do it again.
When the song was over, they started to leave the stage and then Marco asked them and us if we wanted one more song. Of course we all did and so in lieu of an encore they just jumped right back into a great version of “Throw It Away.”
When it was over, he ran over to Karina’s effects pedals and started messing around with all the settings while she played a few notes. And then they all agreed they would do one more.
And they ended with a fantastic sing along of “At the Show.”
I had such a great time at the show. I don’t think the smile left my face all night. I highly recommend seeing him, it’s a great time and a great band.
This show has so many people taping it (at least four by my count). Here’s a full concert video from the balcony (at 19:48 you can see him jump into the crowd).