The Benefits of Living in London: A Cruel But Heartfelt Wake-up Call


The windows of London pubs are hung with flags to invite visitors to drop their cynicism and drink a few pints in honor of the World Cup in Qatar, putting human rights violations out of their minds for 90 minutes. Now the perks aren’t really for flag-waving at the best of times, and they don’t have them.

In the direct title of “Shit Britain,” frontman Kingsley Hall spits on trying to find his place in a proud nation where “Red Arrows howl past when the homeless crowd,” before shouting out these immortal words: “Three Lions on a shirt.” “. “You may have noticed that in this song I added “footballism,” he says after a minimalist but intimidating track. “It was our attempt to write a World Cup football song. Unfortunately, the Football Association rejected it, which is a pity.”

His thoughts on the ongoing competition? “Damn it, don’t pay attention,” he shrugs. “Go to the concert.” Good call. Today, the punks from Teesside give us a lot of reasons to be here. First, their new live setup. Known for their unpolished and stripped-down approach to vocals and noise on the record, they are joined on stage by former Mogwai concert drummer Kat Myers, who adds a lively pulse to what could have been a very cold case. The awe-inspiring “Empire” now has a tribal beat and an almost psychological feel, “Divide” has a punchy groove, and “Malboro Hundreds” even inspires Hall to a Daltry-style windmill. He’s not a rock star, mind you. Not at all.

“It’s very nice to be in a crowd of the same patriots,” Hall smiles at a room of young and old punks, shouting back his disappointment in little Britain, urging them to “ignore cartoon fascists, reject hatred,” reminding them that “you have value”; the common good is above all, and that in 2022 no one should ask for a bow or politeness in a year. Forget about Qatar, we need it here.

There’s a lot of vulgarity in the style of IDLES and punk punk dancing out of the shadow of Sleaford Mods, but “Advantages” is something else – something primal and essential that needs to be heard. There is no sales or media plan; they are just a symptom of where we are. It’s the vomit rising from the womb of the sick in broken Britain. On the air, especially during the crushing “Flags” and “Traitors”, they are the human embodiment of how personal politics can be.

Despite all the rage, there is also a lot of heart on display. Towards the end of the set, Hall talks about the years when he was overwhelmed by “anxiety, stress and fear” and that the only way to overcome it is to admit it. “It’s a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous,” he says, but with more volume threatening the eardrum. It may have been an exorcism for him, but tonight was a wake-up call for everyone else. Stand out, stand up, be heard: don’t let the bastards overwhelm you.

Benefits played:

‘Marlboro Hundreds’
‘Divide and Be Conquered’
‘Shit Britain’
‘The Common Good’
‘Taking Us Back’


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