Live at The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen 23 October 2015

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Live at The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen 23 October 2015

With his debut UK tour drawing to a close, Ben Rogers pulled into Gallowgate and held spellbound a the considerable numbers who turned out for a memorable Aberdeen performance.

His first album Lost Stories Volume One alerted those with finely-attuned musical antennae to something special unleashed on the world from North Vancouver. Its unadorned simplicity, its blue-collar everyman songs, giving voice to injustice and the downtrodden, won Ben many fans. On his current release The Bloodred Yonder, he has opted for a full band sound, verging on rockabilly, and it is as memorable in its way as his debut.

His observations and gentle railings at injustices resonate with fellow feeling and restrained anger, articulated in an affecting careworn voice older than the combined ages of the audience. Familiar songs are given context in considered emotional, often humorous introductions. Tributes are paid to the forgotten 500 remand prisoners of New Orleans abandoned to drown in their cells, the homeless of Vancouver driven from the streets in preparation for the Winter Olympics and to The Universal Cowboy, co-credited in the liner notes to The Bloodred Yonder, the inspiration behind ‘Panhandler’. Most tellingly, is his appeal for unity during the introduction to Cowboys And Indians which sees Ben almost break down, having witnessed first-hand the prejudice and bullying to which Native Americans have been subject, and, he suspects, are subjected still.

Yet, there is humour amid the resigned anger. Fresh from a house concert and night at Jonny Hardie’s Newe residence on Strathdon, of which he mocks his own mispronunciation, Ben is delighted that a Donside spider has left a single web strand on his Guild guitar. The murder ballads, fittingly well-received in a bar on the old road to the gibbet, and at which he excels, have the near-farcical tales behind them told with deadpan humour, and the unrecorded ‘Talking Birds And Bees Blues’ is comedy gold. Ben’s late grandfather was a huge influence on him and the tales he tells of this man’s part in his childhood are filled with affection and laughter.

It takes a brave man to stand up for those so disadvantaged, in the face of establishment opposition and media spin. It’s also a very brave bearded man who fearlessly plays racked blues harp. Respect.

Alas, the 2015 UK tour is just about to end, but reports of the audience euphoria that Ben has created, armed with just a guitar, mouth harp, image-laden songs of high quality and that voice, will surely see his return to Europe before too long.
Date added: Oct 24, 2015

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