David Benjamin Blower
Driving. It's rarely straightforward is it? Ditto leaving the house at any time. Combining leaving the house and rush hour driving... Ultimately that meant that by the time the man previously previously known as Warren the Shoe, and now previously known as the Bearwood Mountain Man, and I reached The Chaplaincy at Warwick University, having taken various detours and endured afternoon traffic jams, the pizza was chewed over and cold and the available pop was flat and warm.
And so it goes, getting to and into this David Benjamin Blower performance, which perhaps ranks as one of the three weirdest gigs I've attended, well ever... The others? I know you'll want to know that amongst those are Spacemen 3 at Dingwalls; I saw what appeared to be a huge gap in the audience directly in front of the stage and bowled towards it, beer in hand, only to upend myself entirely when I crashed into the kids sitting on the floor, that I hadn't seen in the darkness, and of course, arse over tit. As they say. And the journey home fucked up by our minicab driver being arrested by the police, in the middle of north London nowhere. There are others for other reasons, Atari Teenage Riot in Anaheim, Killdozer, Kevin McCarthy, Tricky and Jonathan Richman, that last man alone maybe three weird ones on his own. All weird and all great. And so...
David Benjamin Blower's new record, We Really Did This and We Really Existed, is receiving all kinds of deserved plaudits. It's a dynamic confluence of acoustic instruments and eclectic electric possibility. It is to be immediately and patiently absorbed. It's one of the LPs of the year and the best recording of music and lyrics as a piece to come out of Birmingham, since, I don't know, probably since Steel Pulse's Handsworth Revolution. It's pure genius demands attention.
At the Chaplaincy, a tight circle of fans surround David as he unfolds his music stand, picks his ancient parlor guitar from the ground, sits not necessarily relaxed. He does this, performs in intimate spaces. It suits the words and the music.
In front he surveys the pizza, the soda, enervated, dessicated maybe even before we drove.
David explains that he'll perform We Really Did This and We Really Existed in its entirety and that it will take an hour or so, and he will add the between track poetry musings which add so much, and while available on disc don't make it to Spotify.
The melody of The Two Horses and Everything Is Changed ease you but don't prepare you for the oncoming maelstrom. It's the apocalypse out there and we are here to talk it over with David. It's like a Sweeps Week Disaster Epic and we're aboard the good ship Hale-Bopp. Should we worry?
"We all walk into the future backwards
Because the past is our only reference...
And only rarely does the present demand
That what we turn and refer to what's stood there ahead of us."
Even with the stripped down guitar and vocal only sound, the power of his songs, like the single, The Soil, is there, heavier than heavy metal.
The performance then, beyond captivating for an hour. The audience entirely and utterly wrapt. Not breathing between songs. And then it's over. There's an awkward silence, like something I saw once when the Teenage Fanclub played the Jabberjaw Coffee Shop on Pico, drained the room, with their outlandish noise, to nervous exhaustion.
At the Chaplaincy, David ends with an offer to lead a post show conversation about catastrophe...
For us there was a parking problem and we had to beam back up we had to go.
Ancient Champion only ever communicates with us online so, so much we don't know. Proud Citizen of Nowhere is the response when we ask where you from? We do know the Ancient Champion is releasing a new single each month of 2019. Instrumental music characterised as easy listening for difficult times. And a collection of extremely short stories, Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere as part of the SideCartel's Sextet series. More info at AncientChampion.com