Sharp wit, improvisation and audience interaction were all on the agenda when Ben Folke Thomas called into Birmingham’s Kitchen Garden Café on this latest short set of dates around the land of his second home. The dry charm of an artist, suggestively nomadically labelled as ‘Swedish Americana’, aligns well with his supremely crafted straightforward songs and a vocal style as deep as the subterranean substance of his lyrical material. Without hesitation this evening can be classed as a success.
This return trip to Birmingham saw Ben cross the road from his last appearance at the Hare and Hounds, and the more intimate surroundings of the Kitchen Garden Café were more suited to this solo performance. The solo status was taken to the extreme that no support was allotted to the show thus presenting Ben with the two set opportunity to showcase material from both his albums and a few other songs lacking a recorded home at the moment.
While the strength of Ben’s songs is the ultimate currency of a professional living, the irreverent banter helped further fuel the enjoyment of this gig. Quintessentially a live show is just that with the personal connection being irreplaceable via any other medium. This is probably the most appropriate summary of the evening, leaving the best outcome of a review in tempting others to seek out the live experience for themselves. Quite simply Ben Folke Thomas makes venturing out to see an engaging singer-songwriter in the domain of their expertise a worthwhile choice of leisure pursuit.
For a brief record on some of the noted pinpointed moments, ‘Woman I Love’ is my favourite track of Ben’s and continues to retain that status after hearing it live again. ‘Sex Addict’ has the most surreal of lyrical inspirations and remains an easy song for a fully warmed up audience to join in. ‘Dream About You Baby’ was the most enhanced song heard on the evening and raced up the appreciation ladder. Finally ‘Finn’ continues to sum up Ben’s outlook as a songwriter refusing to be bound by borders, a recurring theme on the evening.
One thing guaranteed is that Ben Folke Thomas is going to be around for a long time and there should be plenty of opportunities to see both his band and solo shows in the future. Having seen each format, you can take your pick as the merit flows equally. The certainty of Ben appealing from a multitude of angles is a priceless quality to possess and the live acoustic/folk/roots/country/Americana or any respectful music scene is strengthened by his presence.