​Pétur Ben DECL Office, Edmonton AB, October 9

​Pétur Ben DECL Office, Edmonton AB, October 9
Photo: Chris Gee
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"These songs... they're all depressing but in Iceland, that's really hot" joked Pétur Ben at the beginning of his set. With only an acoustic guitar plugged into myriad effects to back him, the Icelandic singer-songwriter opted to play a set largely consisting of new songs (which didn't stop him from imploring the crowd to buy his earlier records as they "sound awesome"), proving adept at letting his sublime guitar work take center stage for his moody compositions.
 
Yet Ben proved he does rather well as a frontman. His soft tenor vocals fit right in the mix, confidently pushing the material forward and his charisma helped him sail over mistakes that might have sunk another performer — playing off lyric flubs and guitar slipups with a casual ease, making it easier for the receptive crowd to forgive him.
 
When he was able to deliver, he pulled it off. Songs such as "Painted Blue" and "Skinny Girl" tore at the crowd with building vocals and interlocking guitar, and while certain tracks such as "Wasted on Holidays" suffered merely from not being unable to replicate the roaring dynamics achieved with a live band, Ben's effective banter and charm made up for the lack of additional musicians on stage.