Ben Ottewell Concert Review: Send Me Your Photos & Thoughts

Ben Ottewell (Gomez) live at Schubas in Chicago on 3/25/11

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Watching Ben come through the bar at Schubas has me thinking that I have been a Gomez fan for a long time.  Ben commented on how childish his lyrics were when he wrote “‘Get Miles’, a long time ago.”  I have watched Ben Ottewell from when he was very young transform into a mature man who writes about that matured wisdom in heartfelt songs on his new solo album Shapes & Shadows.  So mature that he includes a Jackson Browne song in his set.  Something no kid would dare try.

Schubas packed in a sold-out crowd for the show.  Much of the crowd were huge Gomez fans and whenever Ben delivered a Gomez classic he felt the Chicago-love with great applause.  I did overhear a few attendees that were not even aware Ben had a solo album out.  I am not judging, because if you don’t regularly check in here at Spool Going Round, I am not sure how you find cool new music.

The show opened with the lead-off track from his solo album, and title track, “Shapes & Shadows.”  Just Ben Ottewell and his collection of acoustic guitars.  The room at Schubas was the perfect venue for Ben’s deep and soulful voice.  Sometimes you just stand there in amazement at where that voice is coming from.  In these days of electronically enhanced vocals influenced by something called “auto-tune” it is still such an event when someone can share a unique and deeply passionate vocal performance live without much help, except beer to moisten. He even had a go at a Gomez song that Ian usually sings, “Hamoa Beach.”  We won’t tell Ian how we feel about this.  You should definitely check out Ben’s songs from his solo album. They are all worth many thought-provoking listens.  During the show the audience asked Ben if he had CD’s for sale.  He said that he hadn’t brought any with him, “…they should be in the shops, if there are any shops that still sell music.”  Boy, is that a sad truth.  I got my copy at Best Buy.

Ben played “Chicago” off that new solo album.  The crowd loved it, how can you not when you’re hearing our city sung by that voice.  Ben wasn’t sure how it would go down because the song is a bit of a downer.  Not being a Chicagoan, he didn’t know how much we understand sadness here. What Chicagoan hasn’t felt that way at a time or two. I sure have.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the show.  Please post a comment or email me at Spool Going Round.  I would also like to see your photos or videos.  I am no philosopher, no poet, and surely I am not a photographer. 

Setlist: Ben Ottewell at Schubas 3/25/11

Shapes & Shadows (Ben Solo)
Lightbulbs
(Ben Solo)
Black Eyed Dog>> (Nick Drake Cover)
>>Free To Run
(Gomez)
Blackbird
(Ben Solo)
All Brand New (Ben Solo)
Get Miles (Gomez)
Hamoa Beach (Gomez)
Chicago (Ben Solo)
These Days (Jackson Browne cover)
Little Pieces
(Gomez)
78 Stone Wobble (Gomez)
How We Operate (Gomez)
Take This Beach (Ben Solo)
Tijuana Lady (Gomez)

Ben left us with news of a new Gomez album out in June and a return to Chicago around that time. You can enter your email address below and they will send you their new song.

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