Kingsley seems to be one of those restless souls. Founding the Chapman Family in the mid 2000s. He has been an artist, documented the history of Teesside music, had a brief stint with Kingsley Chapman and the Murder, all while working in factories and art galleries. His need to produce art drives him. His latest band seem to be a culmination of all his past projects., Part art work. Part punk. Benefits are quickly becoming a vital and much needed social art commentary on modern society.
The UK is in an odd position. The working-class have voted for a party that hates the working-class. The reason, Brexit.
Having seen their standard of living and opportunities for their children and grandchildren get worse under successive governments. They have accepted the line that that closing the door and being proud of a fictional idea of ‘Great’ Britain will improve their lives. ‘Take back control’ has become their mantra. Many have signed up to this act of self-harm voting for a party who hates them, but will ‘get Brexit’ done.
People like me. University educated working-class, don’t want to call them racists. I blame the middle-classes. Their refusal to accept their own privilege. They have a history of voting for parties who cut taxes, rather than spending to help those unfortunate to be born in areas with less opportunities. If the middle-classes have punched down on them. Are the working-class doing anything different to their middle-class cousins? So I try to justify their prejudices and argue that we need to invest in improving the post-industrial north.
Working for a Uni, I have access to all the academic papers documenting the negative side of uncontrolled immigration that our side pretended didn’t exist. I know that our side on the Remain side told lies from a perspective of a person living in post-industrial town. When you are working on zero hour contracts and your town has 1 person in every 180 who is an asylum seeker. Your picture of reality is very different to somebody living in an affluent area not effected by either. If you are fed lies in the media it have some element of truth – it is easy to see them as completely true. Sadly, we have lost nuance from British politics. Everything is black or white. Sensible people being dragged to the extremes because we won’t acknowledge their difficulties.
As you can see. My approach to all of this is that there is systemic inequality that needs fixing. I try to justify their self-harm.
Benefits have taken a different and much more direct line of attack. Yes, your life is shit, but you have made it worse. I am starting to think they might have the right idea.
Benefits through their intense angry songs, have created a mirror for the working-class. Showing the ugliness of their decisions in an effort to force them to see how they are accepting the manipulation of wealthy elites, who are encouraging them to punch down, not up.
This is angry music. Chaotic industrial music. Full of feedback and manic drum stabs. With a shouty angry Northerner trying his hardest to shake us awake. Tonight, at the spiritual home of punk, they put in a true punk performance. Kinglsey stalking angrily around the stage spitting out his tirades on modern life with such passion, the performance is visceral and music uncomfortable. But it is also necessary.
On Oxford Street the flags were out for the Coronation, adding a stark reality to Benefits songs. The idea of what is patriotism permitted all their work. Songs like Warhorse, Traitor and Flag seemed especially relevant tonight. We are being portrayed as traitors because we don’t think hanging a flag up fixes problems.
But it was a song that had passed me by on Nails, their recent album, Council Rust stood out. With a change in tempo and a chance for Kingsley to dial back the anger. It almost seemed nostalgic.
Sadly, Kat was unavailable tonight. Rick McMurray from Ash stepped in with Kingsley acting as conductor increasing and decreasing the ferocity of Rick’s drumming. Rick did a fine job to hold on for the ride.
With an album with a black cover and a constant stream of new drummers, the band could be confused for Spinal Tap. But there is nothing amusing about their message.
Every Benefit performance seems to be special and unique. There seemed to be a shift in tone tonight. The release of an acclaimed album bringing a confidence in their material and creating a foundation to the set list. Moments of ‘quieter’ reflection seem to be permeating the set. These brief pauses only intensify the anger of the rest of the set. But added much needs moments of reflection and positivity. Brief moments for us to reflect that we can win this fight. Things can be better.
Tonight at the spiritual home of punk, the most punk band around, showed how music can still be vital and relevant. It is Benefits are also an amazing piece of social art.
- Marlboro Hundreds
- Shit Britain
- Council Rust
- What More Do You Want
- Taking Us Back
Support was from Meryl Streep who also have a lot to say about modern society and the excellent Scrounge.