We are in “interesting times” says Mitch Benn, and that certainly feels accurate. We are damningly close to boiling the oceans, Great Britain is about to commit economic suicide through Brexit, and a long overdue conversation is taking place about inequality of the sexes, and toxic masculinity. Mitch Benn has songs for all of these issues and more, but are they enough to save the world?
Obviously it’s a loaded question, as a song alone isn’t going to fix anything (although Benn admits it can be a catalyst for a movement) but realistically these aren’t going to be doing that either. Innocuous enough, the songs varied in terms of comedic punch, ranging from the polite smile to sharp outburst. It didn't help that he was working with only one speaker, as the other had blown that morning, so left his lyrics were drowned out by his guitar. This is expected to be rectified for future performances though.
Now this isn’t to say the performance was a disaster, indeed, there is a lot to like. For one, Benn is naturally affable, controlling the stage with an excitable energy akin to a puppy. Likewise, although the lyrics weren’t the most inspired, I found no fault with the technical elements of his performance. I’m always in awe of musicians who can effectively use a loop pedal, and Benn is on that list. The way he layered the tracks upon each other was masterful, and during one song I forgot he was meant to be ‘comedic’ as I was so drawn in to the music.
Each song was accompanied by a link, where Benn enthusiastically - and incredibly frenetically - gave his views on various topics. As with his lyrics, the level of entertainment in these sections varied, although I found his Brexit content quite dull - but that is only because it did nothing to really progress the conversation. His section of Greta Thunberg and the wider conversation of autism, however, was fascinating, engaging, and personable in a way that I wish was applied to other sections of the show.
Ten Songs to Save the World is mistitled, but it will certainly save you from boredom for an hour. If you’re left-leaning, a Guardian reader, or to quote Benn, not a ‘bug eyed death cultist’, then you’ll certainly find agreeable content.