Review: Ben Marwood, the endearing, angry-voiced monk of folk

A man with a guitar and witty words: Ben Marwood
5 Jun 2013 @ 8.06 pm
| Entertainment
A man with a guitar and witty words: Ben Marwood
A man with a guitar and witty words: Ben Marwood

Review: Ben Marwood
Venue: Black Swan, Monday, June 3


Somehow I have found myself alone on the front row. I’m at The Black Swan about to watch Ben Marwood. Yes, The Black Swan, the very place in which Carole Bromley viciously bullied me into reading out one of my poems at the YorkMix / York Literature Festival poetry competition.

Before the night had even begun I knew it would be forever tarnished by hideous flashbacks. That tapestry truly haunts my dreams.

Obviously, ever the trooper, I battle on, deciding that today clearly isn’t the best day to quit drinking – plus, it feels like a small scale version of the Eden Project in here, except there are no trained medics passing out water. Just before the heat and the flashbacks get too much and I make a dash for the door, Chris Laycock is on stage and I want him to be my friend.

He poses as a lovely chap from Darlington, though I’m not entirely convinced he isn’t actually Joshua Radin.

He certainly sounds similar with his gentle voice. I like the way he talks to us in between songs too, particularly the Tuning Songs, to which I accidentally guffawed. Very few other people even raised so much as a titter. He was joined by girlfriend Justine towards the end of his set, who is evidently the the Lisa Hannigan to his Damien Rice.

Next up is Jonny Gill, who I haven’t seen since 2011. I reviewed him then, too, and said it was the sort of thing I’d find on my little sister’s iPod. Well, now I’d like it on my iPod, please.

This is a boy who clearly won’t take no for an answer on the music front and that persistence has really paid off. He’s grown up in his songwriting, and vocally he’s a lot more controlled. He is a brave fellow playing a Frank Turner cover at a Ben Marwood gig. He was even braver to play it at that Beans On Toast gig back in 2011. But the performance of it tonight impressed me far more than the first time.

As a Taylor Swift fan I thoroughly enjoyed the brief homage to her. She just gets me, all right?

Now it’s Helen Chambers. I’ve got two questions for you Helen: How do you look so youthful when you have a five year old? Are you secretly Dolly Parton? This woman is a marvel.

Just to clarify the Dolly Parton I’m talking about is the I Will Always Love You tear jerker Dolly Parton, not the Nine To Five Dolly Parton. Helen’s got a really natural and noticeable vibrato to her voice, making it shake with emotion when she needs to – just like Our Dolly.

Finally, as the humidity reaches untold heights, Ben Marwood is in front of us. I would have appreciated a strobe lights warning from the woman with the camera. For a moment I thought I was developing epilepsy. So Ben Marwood, angry voiced, laughing eyed folk singer with a hair cut like a monk’s. He’s not nearly as insecure as I’d expected, and he’s as endearing as I’d hoped.

As a bespectacled woman I particularly enjoyed his T-shirt which read: “Glasses Makes You Sexy.” He’s one man with a guitar, and a collection of witty, relatable lyrics, I even teared up during I Promise You That It Will Be OK, or perhaps my eyes are just sweating.