About Time You Saw: Mutual BenefitBy Gabriela Jones
“This is the biggest group of people who’ve ever come to see us intentionally,” jokes Jordan Lee softly, smiling.
“I want to put him in my pocket!” my friend immediately declares. I think the entire congregation gathered in Islington’s Union Chapel tonight might fight her for privilege – but then again, this music’s so loving, so gentle, that all 500 of us may as well join forces, sew up a man-size pocket and share him
How could this fucking odyssey have come out of this one little person? I mean, he’s not that little, but the seven songs on Mutual Benefit’s debut Love’s Crushing Diamond are so immense in scale that seeing Jordan Lee in the flesh is almost shocking. Where is his choir of angels? I was led to believe the stage would be littered with golden harps? There aren’t even any harps on this record, but it sounds like there should be, buried in all the intricate, deliberate layers of Lee’s sound.
It seems fitting that Mutual Benefit’s visits to London see him and his tour band billed to play churches (in March he played a sold out show at St John on Bethnal Green); this noise is ethereal, but most importantly forgiving. “It takes more than a strong swimmer/to stay above water/with a body divided,” he sings with flawless, peaceful certainty an understanding.
At one with the beautifully arranged and performed instrumentals, Lee’s words are what hits you hardest live. Something about seeing his lips move in the flesh brings home what poetry these lyrics really are:
“and to say goodbye/ makes a mess of all my thoughts/ makes me wish for eloquence/ when it’s love that’s all I’ve got”
OUCH! FEELINGS! CLARITY! LOVE! LIFE! He addresses all our shortcomings, AND he’s telling us they’re OK! AND HE FEELS THEM, TOO! WE ALL FEEL THEM! THINGS ARE RUBBISH BUT THEY’RE GOING TO TURN OUT JUST GREAT! HOW CAN I EXPRESS THIS WITHOUT CAPSLOCK?
The drummer isn’t a drummer; he’s a percussionist of orchestral proportions. Chimes ring gently out and it feels unintentional, like a soft breeze just blew in through the chapel doors. Everything here is organic.
But the air is still in the Union Chapel; the candlelight lining the high ledge above the pews barely flickers. Nobody’s talking. The violinist’s shadow is cast large on the stone wall behind him, and now for the first time in the show phone cameras come out – tonight it’s not shaky, distorted Snapchat fodder but a mesmerizing moment we’ve got to frame and hold on to. Because how often does this happen?
“And it seems that beauty can be hard to find/ When you try to freeze a moment in your mind.”
Words and Pictures by Gabriela Jones – http://www.gjonesphoto.co.uk/