I am not gong into too much detail why I love Benefits or why I believe they are so vital. I have previously written a long review of the band and how they are the antidote to our broken society.

Tonight was their second London show at the larger Oslo and for me, another special show.

Since they last played London, they have changed drummers. Enter stage right, one of our favourite drummers, Cat Myers. I have to admit, I was really surprised, given the bands Cat has drummed for, to find her drumming for one of the most DIY bands around. She must clearly see what we see. Unusually, this isn’t going to be a review of the band, this is about how great a drummer Cat is!

Benefits are noise and poetry. Kingsley’s well observed lyrics on the selfishness and intolerance of modern society are spat out with equal part venom and despair. Behind him, the band create a wall of industrial noise / music.

I think many will be scared away by the noise. But there is music in there. Like modernist ‘classical’ composers like Xenakis, they are manipulating our primeval ability to see patterns in randomness.

The words Kingsley spits out are central to the band. Every single word has meaning. Pieces like Flags, questions patriotism. As a patriotic socialist. I believe a country’s strength comes from how it looks after the most deprived in society. Flag explores how the ‘Right’ sells an idea of patriotism to the working-class that keeps them deprived and those with the money in power. This is vital and serious stuff and is also the reason why I love the band. They are willing to put their heads on the chopping block, in the hope the music they create, changes society. Their music challenges the listener both musically and intellectually.

So why is this a review of a drummer?

A message is great. But a message with no listeners is just a mad man shouting into the dark. A message has to be heard. Punk achieved this through three minute long songs you could jump around to. Dylan achieved this through cleverly written songs. People like Tom Robinson (a big fan of the band) and Billy Bragg achieved this through expertly written pop song.

One of the barriers to Benefits growing, is their insistence on challenging the listener. Cat is a vital addition. She introduces a different musical mentality where she drives us to dance. Her drumming is alway ‘powerfully sublime’. Cat hits the drums as hard as any drummer. She is pure rock. Bonham would be impressed. But she has something most power drummers don’t have. She has a a subtle touch that isn’t necessarily obvious unless you are ‘down at the front’. What differs Cat from may drummers is that she adds subtle little sub-beats to her drumming that are closer to dance music than rock.

Tonight I was dancing to Benefit’s music.

I will repeat that….

I was dancing to music intended to make me stop and think!

Benefits, the noise merchants, the band that have set themselves up to challenge you. Tonight, had danceable music. That is a vital and important change.

People like me. People with a political persuasion similar to the band, who will happily listen to industrial music (or Xenakis) and enjoy ‘anti-music’, aren’t the right audience. The message has to be more widely heard. Adding a drummer who only knows how to make you dance, creates a bridgehead. Before you know it. You are dancing and the message is seeping into our numb-skulls. This is a genius move by the band. I only hope given a few support slots in 2023, this will catapult them into the big time and they help us change society.

I am not really the right person to review the vitalness of tonight. As a working-class lad from Teesside, one of the most deprived areas of the UK, I am surprised Benefits are one of the few bands challenging Tory austerity/Brexit Britain head on. I do not understand why more bands aren’t screaming like Kingsley, about the injustice of modern society. Sadly, I guess it is just a reflection of how southern middle-class our music is. Benefits should not be the flag wavers of the resistance. But by god, they are. Tonight, they again proved how vital they are and I just bloody love them for trying to change things.

Support tonight was from Straight Girl, who probably should be categorised as an EDM artist, and not really my thing. But tonight at least, I bloody loved her set.

Not a bad evening of thought. Thank you Benefits and Straight Girl, for making me think.