Benjamin Clementine live review – an incredible performance from a unique talent

May 17, 2014, Article by Tom in Live reviews, Music

Since his breakthrough appearance on Later with Jools Holland in October of last year, Benjamin Clementine has been an artist on the up. Having first come to attention busking on the Paris Metro, Clementine has now risen to the level where he can headline a show at the 1,400+ capacity Koko before he’s even released an album. By the time tonight’s performance came to a close, it was easy to see why.

Koko is a beautiful venue (apart from the scandalous £5.20 charge for a can of warm Red Stripe – poor Ben Willis looked on the brink of either passing out or kicking the bar staff), and it was perfect setting for an artist like BC. The stage set up was simple, with just a piano and a microphone, and as he wandered on stage at just after 9pm he was lit by just two spotlights. This wasn’t a gig that needed gimmicks to hold your attention; it was all about Clementine’s incredible voice.


There are few comparisons that spring to mind when watching Clementine perform, as his delivery is incredibly unique. Antony and the Johnsons and Nina Simone seem to get mentioned a lot in press about him, but the best thing to do is give his songs a listen and draw your own conclusions. On some songs he barely whispers, and on others he sounds so tortured you just want to get up there and give him a big cuddle. Either way, it’s impossible not to be blown away.

Inevitably for an artist who has only released one 3-track EP, it was the well-known songs that received the most rapturous reception, but the material tonight was strong enough to suggest that his debut album, when it eventually arrives, will be something special. For the most part, however, the audience stood in respectful silence, mesmerised by what was happening on the stage.

Clementine performing ‘Nemesis’ on Jools Holland. It’s bloody good.

The between song chatter, whilst kept to a minimum, was also pretty funny, adding to Clementine’s charm and skill as a performer. But really is it’s all about the voice. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea; some may argue his delivery can be a bit OTT, but to me (and the entirety of tonight’s audience) it’s haunting, intense, and unconventionally beautiful. Basically, he’s one of the biggest new musical talents in the country at the moment, and if you do get chance to see him live, do it.

Benjamin Clementine‘s Cornerstone EP is available now