In review: Bene at Kantine am Berghain

Sunday night saw New Zealand artpop artist Bene take to the stage at a packed out Kantine am Berghain – and indieBerlin was there to experience the show first hand just for you, dear reader.

Given our first impressions of an exciting up-and-coming artist, we naturally had pretty high hopes for the night. With no support act, Bene launched straight into a lighthearted and colourful set, accompanied by her equally laid-back band. To her credit, she delivered a solid vocal performance, with her technique impressively secure considering she’s relatively new to the world of performance.

However, underlying the entire concert from the outset was a distinct nervous energy, a palpability which repeatedly distracted us from the music. She’s only nineteen, and of course has years ahead of her to refine her style and shake off the nerves, but on this occasion, her jitters seemed to take over the show. From our perspective, she seemed rather on edge throughout the entire evening, with this anxiousness only easing up during the last two or three songs.

It’s a pity, as she’s got a decent catalogue of written works behind her, and absolutely seems to possess the drive and motivation to make a success of herself within a relatively cutthroat industry – but her tense laughter, delightfully awkward jokes and very, very fast chatter seemed to indicate that she’s not quite at home on stage just yet. There was a certain skittishness to her stagemanship, which prevented her from playing with the melodies as well as we would have hoped. To be frank, there seemed to be a slight disconnect between Bene and her band – although perhaps this will improve with rehearsal.

There were some standout moments where we could clearly see why she’s causing such a stir – Evil Spider, for example, was undoubtedly the highlight of the night. Her deliciously raw and breathy vocals are utterly charming, and we’re curious to see where she’ll take her songwriting next. Soak was lapped up by the crowd, with her ska-tinged vocals showcasing her remarkable skills as a musician and a composer.

Perhaps it’s a case of her slightly lacking in self-belief, which is a crying shame, as we think she’s got a lot more to offer than we saw on Sunday night.

Bene is clearly a hugely talented young woman, and certainly has a refreshing sound that’ll help her to go far. To hear more of her music, take a listen to her Spotify, or have a peek at her Instagram and Facebook.

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