We’ve had all manner of classical music concerts and recitals in Westminster Music Library – from Purcell to Piazzolla, we’ve had jazz from Count Basie to Courtney Pine… but what a terrible admission, we’ve never had Bob Dylan or Carole King.
This was all about to change one sunny evening last week as we welcomed singer Tim Benton for a concert that featured songs from 1965-75, songs Tim grew up with in his home town of Wellington, New Zealand.
Tim moved to London in 2007 but his interest in singing began when he was 14, when, after promising he’d never even think of a career in performing, his father finally let him buy a folk guitar. Since then Tim has sung and acted in clubs, pubs, cabarets and theatres in Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, Hawaii, London and elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.
The decade that followed 1965 was a fertile period for popular music, the time of the British Invasion, Motown, country and rock. It produced hundreds of great songs, song writers and the new breed of singer-songwriters, many of whom were to prove inspirational to Tim. Together with pianist Simon Wallace, (music arranger for film and TV and accompanist for many of the UK’s finest jazz and cabaret singers) he set about devising new arrangements of songs by such popular music royalty as Joni Mitchell, Neil Sedaka, Simon & Garfunkel, Carole King, Ray Davis, Gene Pitney, The Hollies and Bob Dylan.
He told a packed audience at Westminster Music Library, “This is the first time Simon and I have performed this particular set, so we hope you enjoy it”. And enjoy it we most certainly did, from the opening ballad arrangement of Neil Sedaka’s Laughter in the rain to the up-tempo finale of Bob Dylan’s The times they are a changin’.
Was it my imagination or was just about everyone in the audience tapping their feet? Looking around, the library was positively glowing with smiling faces. The laid-back atmosphere (particularly post interval glass of wine) and the appreciative applause were all we and Tim needed to know that the night had been a success. After the concert had drawn to a close, I reflected on the train home, my head full of those wonderfully catchy tunes, that it was a pity Ray Davis wrote about the sunset over Waterloo, it should really have been Westminster…
“I really enjoyed hearing Tim’s renditions of some of my favourite songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
“Loved it. It’s so expensive going to musicals or concerts such as this nowadays, so coming to the library to hear Tim Benton sing is a real bonus. Thank you.”