Mutual Benefit


Mutual Benefit is the child of singer-songwriter Jordan Lee, who has been the one constant through the band’s journey, a band whose line-up has seen multiple changes with various musicians contributing to both records and live performances. Back in 2013, they received critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork and The Guardian, being labelled ‘ones to watch’ and ‘band of the day’ amongst other applauses.

When I first heard their song ‘Advanced Falconry’, I was in awe, and it was based on that song alone that I went to see them play Manchester’s Deaf Institute in 2014. Shy and endearing on stage, Jordan Lee appeared unsure of himself and the set, even apologising for minor errors during it. Since then, he has released 2016’s Skip A Sinking Stone and most recently 2018’s Thunder Follows the Light.

Tonight they play Manchester’s newest gig venue, Yes, in the delectable ‘pink room’, a room that with its pink walls and pink lighting, almost feels like the setting for a sex show and I like it. The band opens with ‘Storm Cellar Heart’ and the murmurs and chatter come to a halt, everyone sits silently, respectfully clapping as the first song ends. Unsurprisingly, this leads into an array of songs from the new record, including single ‘Come to Pass’, which Jordan introduces by telling us he’s been told his musical demographic is “German people in coffee shops”, he laughs “which is weird as a write it for myself”. ‘Come to Pass’, with its delicate charm and hopeful words, and the beautiful opening track of the album ‘Written in Lightning’, are two of the strongest sounds form the latest album, which conveys Jordan’s views eloquently. As one song rolls into another, I have the urge to close my eyes, the undeniable beauty of the violin and the band’s harmonies are like lullabies, and I feel the only way to give it the attention it deserves is by shutting out any other distractions.

Despite the new tracks being a wonder to hear live, it is the gems from previous albums that stand out above the rest, including from Step a Skipping Stone the raw ‘Skipping Stones’, a tale of heartbreak and being afraid to love again: “I’m so afraid to feel this way again, but I’ll let you in”. But above all else the climax comes as the set heads for its close with Love’s Crushing Diamond’s ‘Strong Swimmer’, the beautiful ‘Advanced Falconry’ (the song I want to walk down the aisle to one day), and finally ‘Lets Play/Statue of a Man’, which is the loveliest end to the warmest, mellowest gig I’ve experienced.

One thing’s for sure, Jordan Lee hasn’t lost his gentle magic, which shone the first time I saw him perform, but you do get the sense in his presence and from his music that he’s grown in both his message and in himself.

The band may have painted their faces like zombies for Halloween, but they are anything but frightful. All treat no trick.

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Sarah Starkey

I am a Freelance Writer who is a bit music obsessive. Previously written for the likes of Music Vita and Planet Ivy. Life highlights include winning £2.50 on the Euro-millions.