Ben Lee: Awake is the New Sleep

...and Ben Lee is the new David Cassidy.

…and Ben Lee is the new David Cassidy.

Tara Makhmali

By Tara Makhmali Contributing Writer

After drinking a few too many cocktails, engaging in “deep” conversation with a bartender, befriending an accommodating groupie, and listening to two starting bands, I finally found myself grooving to the music of Ben Lee.

Ben Lee, an Australian singer/songwriter, graced his fans with heart wrenching, inspiring, and passionate lyrics at the Paradise Rock Club last Wednesday, April 13. If you haven’t heard his music before, consider picking up his latest album Awake is the New Sleep, which was released this February. Many of Lee’s songs pertain to matters of the heart, but it’s not a sob-fest (Yes, boys, you’ll enjoy it, too!). In fact, Ben’s acoustic indie-rock music is quite likeable.

The Paradise Rock Club, which usually fills to a grueling six hundred people on a busy night, was comfortably filled with a hundred or so music lovers. With a Gibson guitar around his neck and a back-up band that came on-and-off the stage, Ben and the audience immediately cliqued.

“Everyone who is supposed to be here is here, right?” Ben joked. “Well, come on, let’s not make any commitments here, but you get the idea,” he laughed.

Fans had no trouble committing to the entirety of Ben’s 45-minute set, as no one came late or left early during the performance. Because of the intimate setting, and the intimate nature of the music, Ben was able to joke and share with the thoughtful audience. As he strummed away on his guitar, traces of a broken heart, love, friendship, and an enduring lust for life filled the room. Ben humorously paid tribute to his sound equipment. “Thank you little upside-down mic,” he joked while ironically pouring his soul out onto the stage.

The audience sang along to Ben’s “Gamble For Love” and recent hit “Whatever It Is.” After playing “Right Angle,” Ben asked the audience whether they had any comments. An enthused and possibly inebriated fan shouted, “That was the best song!” Ben chuckled and replied, “That was the best song. That’s it? All the other songs are shit? Does anyone else want to share something?”

A few long-time fans requested that Ben play a particularly old song. Ben could not recall the lyrics. “When I’m REM level famous,” he said, “I’ll sing all the songs you want. Cause I’ll have a teleprompter. But I can’t now. When I was in high school, I smoked pot.”

One fan reminisced about the not-so-kosher twists and turns of Ben’s youth. A woman, whose name I won’t disclose, admitted to sleeping with the artist in his more carefree days. “He used to be a wild one,” she said, “but now he’s really in touch with himself.”

Maybe that’s how Ben landed and then lost movie star Clare Danes. The two, Lee and Danes, had a special and rocky eight-year relationship that came to a halt this year.

“We’re going to play some more, than we’re going to wait backstage while you clap,” exclaimed Ben at the end of his show. And clap we did.

Ben hit the Australian music scene at the young age of 16. He’s slowly gaining recognition in the States as a 25-year old solo artist. For more information on Ben Lee visit Ben Lee