Ben Howard

Chloe Strahan on 9 April 2013 in Gig Reviews


Ben Howard

Performing on April 7th 2013 @ The Corner Hotel

Beautiful acoustics, English P.E. teachers, and plenty of cheeky banter is what awaited the flocks of fans at the Corner Hotel on Sunday evening.

Following a cancellation of the previous evenings show, Ben Howard jumped up on stage with no remaining signs of being under the weather, ready to make up for lost time in the packed band room.

His performance transported the crowd back to the year 2011, playing predominately tracks from his Mercury Prize nominated debut album Every Kingdom. With a broad range of contemporary and folk influences (imagine a blend of Bon Iver and Paul Simon), Howard’s tracks imitate that cosy feeling of a warm and inviting cup of tea on a brisk morning.

The crowd yelped and cheered as Howard and clan graced the stage, diving straight into the rhythmic “Diamonds”.

Sandwiched between two brand new tracks was the summery “Old Pine”, telling an emotive tale of a tree falling. The atmospheric tune is delivered with heart-filled soul and husky vocals, creating waves that ebb and flow in the room, with punters swaying accordingly.

This lovely number landed Howard a flurry of marriage proposals by awestruck females in the crowd. Shyly thanking the ladies for their admiration, Howard quickly steered the subject into a story about a Torquay pub that he visited recently.

Engaging many more fans’ affections by praising the beloved Aussie coast, this sparked an outbreak of recommendations from the throng for the best coastal watering holes.

The singer couldn’t help but laugh at the enthusiasm of the crowd admitting, “he can’t think of any good stories to tell.”

Hilariously, two English punters piped up and told a tale about the young Mr Howard. Taking a moment to catch on, Howard realised that “these guys were my P.E. teachers in England!”

After a few minutes of collective laughter at the bizarre coincidence, the venue finally settled when the singer’s chuckling subsided, getting back on track with the performance.

Howard’s cheery mood had an evident effect on the entire room, with punters relaxed and able to giggle and chat away between songs, praising each track that had just finished.

The band room was filled to the brim with excited show-goers, yet some became restless and annoyed at their fellow fans’ feeble attempts to become professional iPhone photographers.

During fan favourite “Only Love”, one mouthy fan gave the loud suggestion to “put your phone down you fucks!” Thankfully this outburst was mostly affective, with most culprits putting away the devices and surrendering to the live experience they were witnessing.

As the set wore on, more and more tracks from Every Kingdom made an appearance.

“Wolves” and “The Fear” were delicate tracks communicated by gorgeous harmonious vocals, where “Keep Your Head Up” set up for a more upbeat energetic sense of fun to the set.

It was hard for the audience not to get swept up in the beautifully organic encore. Firstly playing the intimate “Depth Over Distance”, a hypnotically beautiful track that left the crowd in captivated awe for the first time that evening. Howard’s technique of sideways guitar and flowing slides was mesmerising and tender.

The troubadour finished with “Promise” in the efforts to “send everyone home nice and relaxed – I know how you Aussies get after a few beers”, continuing to humour his masses by adding “there are to be no fights on the way home.”

The dreamy instrumentals were illuminated by Howard’s illusory vocals, which gave everyone goose bumps. The pensive number ended the night on a euphoric note for the entire crowd, drifting away all knowingly and subconsciously aware that Ben Howard really is something else.


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