Ben Ottewell

By Daryl Habraken

Artist: Ben Ottewell

Date / Venue: Friday June 23rd - The Tuning Fork, Auckland

Having been an avid Gomez fan since the late 90s, I was pumped to get the chance to hear frontman Ben Ottewell perform solo. His voice added the soulfully distinct sound to the Southport 5 piece so if ever there was a vocal talent that deserved its own moment of independent acoustic purity, his is it…. and mark my words, he delivered.

The Tuning Fork was the location and you couldn't have asked for a more appropriate backdrop. A dimly lit, intimate setting with floor to ceiling maroon and black drapes surrounding the 250 odd patrons, with all eyes drawn to the stage by 2 spot lights on the man of the hour. Without hearing a single note you knew what you were in for, one man and his envy inducing talents.

Aided only by his guitar, Ben belted out soulful tunes with his husky delta blues voice. There's always a risk that one man performing solo for and hour and a half with little to no accompaniment can become monotonous…. I can assure you this wasn't the case.  Not only are you mesmerised by the sound and sonic skills, every track had a different meaning and emotion, not only in the lyrics and themselves, but buried in Ben's performance and delivery, making every tune its own special moment.

Two thinks struck me. First, his voice has stood the test of time, 20 plus years on the road and singing with such a rasping baritone hasn't effected a single note. Second, I’d never appreciated his instrumental skills until now. Not only was this a audibly pleasing experience, watching Ben and his effortless control of the guitar was equally as impressive.   

The set list was a mixture of original solo arrangements peppered with classic Gomez favourites. The perfect mix for fans young and old. 

If you get the chance to spend an evening with this acoustic magician, i highly recommend it.