It feels like only yesterday when multi-instrumentalist and North London based artist BenjiFlow burst onto the scene with his debut single ‘Deep End’, capturing our minds and our feet in the process. Following that single’s release he has since taken the stage at The Ends Festival and released a couple more videos, so the time was right for Benji to take to the stage for his own headline show. He impressed during his opening set at GoldLink’s recent headline show in Brixton, with his penchant for a groove and crowd interaction showing that he wasn’t overawed in a room full of 5,000 people. Could he replicate that form on a chilly night in The Camden Assembly?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’d know that BenjiFlow is one of the most talked about artists from the UK. In an age where naysayers swear that there’s a lack of good music coming from our scene – an exhausted and innacurate take – Benji is an artist that dispels this false truth and one who brings light into any dark space. Even if you lean towards being introverted, BenjiFlow’s rich harmonies and infectious vibes will have you off the wall and dancing like a young MJ. His performance of ‘Deep End on Boiler Room displays this quality in abundance.
As I entered the intimate venue with that set in mind, I hoped for a performance that would evoke the same energy and spirit. Backed by a live band and himself on the keys, Benji graced the stage in a red Nike tracksuit and warmly greeted the crowd. With a classy introduction to over 400 people, he laid out his intentions for everyone to get their groove on and have a good time. Running through a collection of songs that he’s been working on; he surprised the crowd with a song that wasn’t his own. The room lit up as the band played the melody to Frank Ocean’s ‘Novacane’ and Benji’s rendition rang true as his falsetto hit the right pockets. An animated crowd sangalong with him as the nostalgia of the moment set in. Mini Kingz cohort Ragz Originale even joined in on the fun as the tandem turned up the vibes, but the focus remained on Benji and it was clear to see him revel in his moment.
With the show progressing, Benji couldn’t help but entice the ladies in the crowd. “I’m getting a bit hot in here, you know!” he said cheekily to retorts of “take it off”. Ever the crowd pleaser, he duly obliged and with that in mind he raised the roof with his next number. ‘Can’t Lose’ is his second single and is deep rooted in salsa influence as he lets his love interest know that the possibilities are endless if they unite. One glance away from the stage showed many simultaenous occurences in the room. Whether it was the fancy footwork being diplayed, the unzipping of outerwear or various hands being thrown in the air – akin to roses being aimed at a stellar cast – the crowd left their troubles at the door and were enchanted by the feel good factor of the music. They say ‘once bitten, twice shy’ but the crowd were clearly enamoured by Benji’s third performance of ‘Can’t Lose’.
The musicality was clear to see; as a fellow DMU alumni I knew of his Music Technology degree, but I was in awe watching him work on the stage, playing the keys to his third single ‘Somebody’. Enthusiasm shined through as he interacted with his live band, laughing and joking as the groove kept on going, with Benji even playing the drums at one point.
With the curtain call nearing, he spoke of his sadness at having to perform his last song, perhaps a timely reminder that happiness is fleeting. Appropriately he ended proceedings with his biggest single to date in ‘Deep End’ – the moment everyone was waiting for. The crowd jubilated as his soft voice continued to guide the room, looseing up the few remaining two steppers in it. Benji dances between temptation and desire as he hit the bridge and literally bounced on stage, never breaking his natural stride. With another stellar performance to add to his name, he thanked the crowd before exiting for bringing him to this point, mirroing the sincerity found in his music.