By Martina Merenda
It was a lovely Saturday night at Ocean Arts. The crowd quietly chatted while waiting for the concert to start, and I couldn’t help but admire the tiny room that will serve as the venue for the night. Everything was so nice and cosy, and the intimacy of the place made me feel at home.
Before we knew it, the first opening act, Alice Robbins got on stage. The young Nottingham-based artist had the honour to start the night. Her voice and her soft rock tones are a delight for the ears that made us fall in a parallel world where time stopped, and nothing existed anymore, only music. Robbins has a pure, unadulterated sound that reminds me of simpler times, where people used to say things straightforward. Alone, she impressively masters the scene, a small girl and her guitar made sure hay that everyone stayed silent to hear what she had to say. Alice Robbins has been touring the UK to launch her first EP, called Lavander Honey, that will come out on May 31st; keep an eye out because you won’t be disappointed in what she has to say!
The magical moment Alice put up was over way too soon, and for a mere fifteen minutes, we all got back to earth, only to go back somewhere else, in the company of TJ Roberts.
With a striking auto-irony, South-Wales native TJ Roberts took the baton from Alice Robbins and continued the magic that the young artist started. Tom, who sings and plays the guitar, was accompanied by his wife Helen on the keyboard and his “other wife” Sam on bass guitar. Their sound, a funk indie-rock that reminds me of a wave rock from California in the 1990s, is very agreeable and puts everyone in a good mood. Robert’s debut album, #1, is available on Spotify, if you like indie sounds, you should check it out and keep an eye out on his future gigs, because he is going far.
And just like that, once again we returned to Ocean Arts, not sure of what we were looking for anymore. The road so far had been incredible, and we were (or at least I was) excited to see where we would’ve gone as the destination.
The best way to describe Benedict Benjamin is to quote Benedict Benjamin’s own social media tagline: “sad songs in major keys”. The young Londoner, former member of the Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue, is touring the UK to present his second album, ‘Truant’ (out on May 3rd), an emotional collection of songs that will never get old. Benjamin’s sound mixes acoustic ballad sounds that we usually find in country songs, to synth and guitar that remind me of the 1980s. It sounds crazy, but it is beautiful and powerful. His voice is warm, shy, calm, full of emotions. Listening to ‘Truant’ is such a beautiful sensation as it is at the same time calming and filling you up with energy. This album is extremely personal and makes the artist vulnerable to the eye of the spectator, but Benedict Benjamin defends his colours well and delivers the content exquisitely and professionally.
In the two hours spent in the company of Benedict Benjamin and his friends, we were taken in so many different places, just with music. Nothing existed but them, and it was a beautiful sensation. Keep an eye out for Benedict Benjamin, as he is one of these artists that once you’ve started listening to him, you will never want to stop; Alice Robbins, as her spontaneity on stage is contagious and won’t pass unnoticed, and TJ Roberts, as his 90s indie rock is on point and an actual work of art; you won’t be disappointed!