Sunday, May 10, 2009


A few months back, I got to see Ben Harper and his new band, Relentless7, twice in one day. Once at the SIRIUS XM NY studios and then that night at Electric Ladyland. They were really tight.

But on Friday night, I saw them play a full length concert (as opposed to a radio event) at the Music Hall of Williamsburgh, and they were even better. Ben has decided to do mostly new material with this band, so they played all of the new album, White Lies For Dark Times (which I really like a lot, it will probably be one of my favorites of '09) and re-arranged versions of "Better Way" and "Another Lonely Day," plus a cover of the Queen/David Bowie classic "Under Pressure." The venue was much smaller than the one where I saw Ben last: Radio City Music Hall. That was appropriate, as he was really treating this as a new band. Like I said, really tight band, much more "rock" and less reggae/soul than The Innocent Criminals. The only problem was the lack of material - so some of the songs got stretched out - but Ben has always been one to jam and really extend a couple of songs when he performs.

I think working with a different band will ultimately be great for Ben: when he did Both Sides Of The Gun a few years back, it was essentially a solo album with some appearances from the Criminals, and you could see he was trying to stretch. He's still doing it. And like Bruce Springsteen working apart from The E Street Band, or Neil Young apart from Crazy Horse, or even when Tom Petty does a solo or Mudcrutch project, I think this will ultimately benefit the Innocent Criminals when they get back together. I imagine Ben will probably work with both bands in the years to come, which would be awesome.

So, anyway, I really like the new album, and if you get the "deluxe" version you get a DVD with a making of doc and more importantly a live EP (some of the tracks were recorded at the Electric Lady event that I was at) .

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