LIVE REVIEW: Mutual Benefit @ The Cluny, Newcastle (27.10.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Mutual Benefit by Stephanie Griffin

Over the past 20 years, mainstream pop music’s idea of a good time could be encapsulated into the moment when a boy band rise to their feet on the final, raised octave, chorus. Symbolising the act of redemption, the big-stand-up is not a display of uncontrollable emotion but rather a well stage-crafted display to let us know that their song is, well, meaningful.  We talk about fake news, but never fake emotion, and perhaps we should because fake emotion may be the motive for the soul of pop music deciding to sneak out of the room some decades ago. 

Fans of obvious pop may well feel ill if they attended a Mutual Benefit show because for all of its cleverness and precision, their type of music is entirely beautiful and real.  Formed out of confessional dreams and long-standing fears, tonight’s version of a continually changing line up sees Mutual Benefit appear as a power-pop trio (acoustic guitar, electric guitar and violin) all centred around central figure, cartoon-esque, Jordan Lee.   

Blissful, dreamy, and gentle, Mutual Benefit create symbolic, low-key pop music layered with meaningful narratives and hidden references, symbolised by tonight’s highlight the harmony-heavy Nightgale Song which somehow bridges the gap between  George Harrison’s meditative All Things Must Pass and The Velvets cocoon warmth of Sunday Monday.  As the set closes Lee references an earlier lyric, explaining that “I don’t want to jump out of my own skin, I just want to believe that people are capable of change”, tell that to the boys on the stools Jordan; they could learn something about pop from you. 

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