Ben Watt, Keeley Forsyth: Phase One, Liverpool


Ben Watt

Ben Watt returns to Liverpool for a Sunday session of sorts and Getintothis’ Simon Kirk is there take it all in.

The Sunday blues are in the air and with that, it’s always a tough sell to drag your arse off the couch and into town for a gig.

However, tonight sees Phase One greet one half of Everything but the Girl, ex-equal mainstay with his wife and songwriter/author Tracey Thorn, Ben Watt.

Watt is currently on a UK tour in support of his latest long-player, Storm Damage – his fourth solo record.

Where Watt’s previous albums have provided momentary sparks, Storm Damage – also featuring a guest appearance from Low’s Alan Sparhawk – is not only his most consistent record, it’s resoundingly his finest to date.

It’s a weighty affair, and during the first couple of listens it actually sounds like a break-up album, however its threads run much deeper than that, as Storm Damage focuses on the aftermath in the sudden death of Watt’s brother, who passed away in 2016.

Storm Damage is a cathartic listen and if anything it meanders on the fringes of one of Watt’s greatest influences, Robert Wyatt.

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First though, we are in early to see the venerable Keeley Forsyth. She begins the night with an unbridled nervous intensity that only she can deliver. And deliver she does.

Forsyth‘s debut album, Debris, is born from the deep undertow of northern Britain. An artist truly playing by her own rules and with tracks like Butterfly and Large Oak, her poetic chamber folk is backed by burgeoning organs that stalk the room.

It’s a stirring performance, all 24 minutes of it, where we are totally immersed in her unique stage presence that teeters on the brink of performance art.

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With Phase One now filled with a healthy number of punters, Ben Watt follows shortly after, entering the stage with his two band mates, kicking off the set with Summer Ghosts.

It’s a good choice to open with and is followed by another Storm Damage highlight, Sunlight Follows the Night.

“Sunday night. Few people in watching Lewis. Is that still on?” says Watt, probably like us quite surprised at the turnout for a Sunday night.

Hendra is delivered with a loose lounge jazz vibe, a surprising addition to tonight’s set that isn’t the only number from his back catalogue which receives warm treatment from band and audience alike.

Bricks and Wood from Fever Dream along with the gorgeous title track from the same album, arguably his finest song, finding a quaint space for Watt to work his magic.

Inspired by a conversation Watt had with his daughter, Storm Damage opener Balanced on a Wire contains some of the album’s most jarring passages.

“People say live in the moment/but the moment seems so narrow sometimes.”


More Storm Damage material follows and is the strongest part of Watt‘s set tonight with Retreat to Find and the skinny electro backdrop of Irene leaving the audience with a collective smile.

The bossa nova infused Some Things Don’t Matter taken from his 1983 album North Marine Drive is another charming surprise, filling the older heads in the crowd with renewed enthusiasm.

Then there’s the weight ballad and closer, Festival Song, a simple but a effective number that ends the night fittingly.

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The performance is what you’d come to expect. Watt‘s songs aren’t earth shattering, but the simple fact is that they don’t need to be.

Everybody needs an in-between artist to fill a void or open up a gateway to something else. A lazy Sunday listen, even. Ben Watt is that artist and tonight he further demonstrates these notions.

Sunday is Ben Watt‘s day.

Photos by Getintothis’ John King