Donny Benét @ Rosemount Hotel
w/ Ah Trees
Friday, October 18, 2019
The Rosemount was treated to some seriously sexy yacht rock on Friday night courtesy of international man of mystery, Donny Benet.
Opening proceedings were local act Ah Trees. Their sound, with beds of reverb and double-harmonised guitars, sounded excellent in the space. It recalled early U2 crossed with The War on Drugs, but showcasing more songwriting variety than either, with some faster post-punk tunes breaking up the bigger numbers. The anthemic Hold Me Down was a highlight, as was Messed Up People, which came off like Pulp if they dared soar to more psychedelic heights.
Donny came on after what felt like an eternity, but it was well worth the wait. Not one to fool about, he launched straight into Working Out. Punters’ feet certainly got a workout against this song’s loping bassline and bouncy keyboards. The band were incredibly tight throughout. While his reputation as a modern day Casanova precedes him everywhere he goes, Donny also knows how to work the crowd. He was a gentleman throughout, engaging in some polite stage banter. His mild manner was disarming, belying the relentless sexual energy that obviously pulsed within.
Benet’s also a lowkey bass genius, responsible for all of the excellent bass runs through the tracks. His bass work was a delight to watch throughout. If there could be a complaint levelled against the show it’s that the Rosemount’s acoustics weren’t as suited to Benet’s tight rhythms as they were to, say, Ah Trees’ more spacious, reverbed sound. Fan favourite Santorini didn’t quite have the punch of its studio counterpart for instance, with the instruments bleeding into one another more than was desirable. Likewise, Donny’s vocal on Sophisticated Lover felt buried in the mix.
Thankfully the strength of Benét’s song choices made up for any gripes with sound, and the crowd certainly wasn’t too fussed. All of Benet’s big hits were featured. Santorini might have been a tad washed out but was nevertheless great fun, and its saxophone-driven finish lived up to expectations. Konichiwa was played to perfection and had some of the strongest reactions from the crowd. Big hits Love Online and latest single Second Dinner came thick and fast and the crowd lapped it up.
Thankfully the band had time for some lesser-known workouts. Night in Rome was energetic Jan Hammer cocaine rock at its finest, with the band generating some serious steam, and Reach the Time was a welcome inclusion. It’s a moody, sequencer-driven slice of neo-noir and the band carried it off with aplomb. The biggest surprise was You’re Too Good, a lighter track relatively, which was lit up by a liquid jazz guitar solo sent from heaven. The band closed on Gimme Your Heat as the encore, an early classic and suitable, high-energy closer. It ended a great night of post-disco from the finest purveyor in the business. Hats off to Donny.
Photos by Damien Crocker