Ben Howard Live in Newcastle
I was fortunate enough for my other half to buy us both tickets to see Ben Howard live in Newcastle on 25th April 2015. He is the sort of artist which you just know is going to to be great in person, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. His style of folky, percussive, electric/acoustic music is set apart from a lot of other artists, and he seems to have kept a high level of genuine musicality within the industry without selling out!
Supporting Ben, were an all male band called Aero Flynn from Wisconsin, USA; while I think the lead vocals were very good, I was a little disappointed with the overall ‘sound’ of the band. Obviously it’s quite difficult to enjoy music the first time you hear it, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. That’s not to say they’re not talented musicians, but I prefer songs with a little more substance, and at times the long synthy improv sections were just a little bit distant from what I prefer to listen to. I obviously went along to see (and hear) Ben Howard play, so support acts are often the luck of the draw, but I was surprised that the choice wasn’t something a little more relevant to his style of music. Ben’s most recent album is ironically titled ‘I Forget Where We Were’, because at times during Aero Flynn’s set, I did.
It was clear that Ben’s most recent album ‘I Forget Where We Were’ was the focus of his set; the sound of even some of his more upbeat songs were at times, not so much melancholy, but chilled. The band was tight and his vocals were on point. I’ve seen artists like Mumford & Sons and Newton Faulkner in my time, and whilst Ben wasn’t as percussive at Newton, I was certainly very jealous of his skills on the guitar. He’d often break away from the familiar guitar riffs from the album exploring melodies which made the songs sound even better! That’s what sets the good from the best when it comes to live artists; the ability to build & consolidate the sound of a much loved album without losing the sound which is so familiar.
He played most of the songs from his new album including ‘Conrad’, ‘Small Things’, ‘End of the Affair’, and the title song ‘I Forget Where We Were’, along with a couple of tracks from his first album including the favourite ‘Keep Your Head Up’. I was particularly impressed with the version of ‘The Wolves’ he did as a part of the encore which he did without the rest of his band; satisfied the groups of lads around me in the crowd who were singing the ‘oh oh oh’ section whenever there was a moment of silence!
The evening was a brilliant collection of songs showcasing the best Ben Howard had to offer; he pulled out all the stops musically, and along with a band of talented musicians, & an LED light display behind I would say it’s up there with the best live acts I have seen.
If you don’t know Ben’s music, where have you been hiding?