Ben Watt promises a little bit of everything in Sheffield show
Two stars of the mid-Nineties music scene are preparing to take to the stage in Sheffield next week.
The Ben Watt Band – starring Ben, one half of Everything But The Girl, and featuring former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler – play a sell-out show at The Greystones after the release of Ben’s latest solo album Fever Dream.
Ben says: “There’s four of us in the band – me, Bernard and drummer Martin Ditchan and double bassist Rex Horan.
“We’ll play a lot of stuff from the new record, a lot of stuff from Hendra, my last album, and some older tracks.
“It’s great, there’s lot of improvisation – it’s just a good night.”
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And 53-year-old Ben is happy to develop his role as the band leader, having “played a secondary role” in Everything But The Girl, behind his long-time partner, and now wife, singer Tracey Thorn.
“My role in it was producer, song-writer, musician, but I played a secondary role in a song,” he says of the band famous for songs such as I Don’t Want to Talk About It and Missing.
“Most people know me as a DJ now,” he says, having set up a number of club nights and nightclubs, as well as a deep house and techno record label, following the demise of EBTG in 2000.
He has also hosted a string of radio shows.
“For me as a live artist, it’s been a long time since I have ever done anything like this.
“I spent 10 to 15 years in underground music. Coming back with Hendra was a new start and playing with Bernard was new – we’d only just met each other.
“As we toured, we developed a real confidence as a performer – we played 60 concerts in support of Hendra.”
But despite his – and Bernard’s – fame, Ben is happy to play a small venue like The Greystones, even though the fact it has sold out suggests they could have played somewhere larger.
“I’ve played all sorts of venues, festival stages, arenas to small clubs and I just think there’s something about that 300 people in a room,” he says.
And, despite keeping the live audiences small, Ben is keen to share Fever Dream with people.
“At the album’s heart, I just wanted to deepen existing relationships,” he says,
“Two years of playing live with Bernard has created a strong bond.
“The music we make feels spontaneous, ardent, unsentimental.
“We just went in and did most of it live. Small room, small band. A harder edge. Instruments spilling into each other.”
And despite admitting a musician’s perfectionism means there is always some disappointment in tracks not sounding exactly how he wanted them to, he says he is proud of the finished Fever Dream.
“A track like Gradually sounds exactly like I wanted it to sound. When I listen back to stuff like that, I think ‘yes, we did it’.”
The Ben Watt Band play The Greystones on Tuesday, May 24.