By Christina Croucher
Artist: Ben Howard
Date / Venue: Saturday August 2nd, Town Hall, Auckland
Last night the charming Town Hall in Auckland showcased two of UK's uprising male artists. It was set to be great gig with opening act UK songwriter Tom Odell opening for Brit Award winner of British Breakthrough Act and British Solo Male Artist 2013; Ben Howard.
I went to the gig expecting a laid back folk session but was pleasantly surprised by an uplifting composition of euphoric folk rock. The sold out show was Ben Howard's first in NZ. The large fan base surprised me prior to the show but after seeing his committed fans and sing-along crowd, the international success made a lot of sense to me; Ben Howard has a lot to give. Ben's execution lyrically, vocally and instrumentally packs a large punch but remains humble. His unique blend of genre is unspecific but incredibly enjoyable to listen to.
The 4 piece multi-talented band used Drums, Cello, Keys, Bass, Acoustic /Electric Guitar and Percussion. The hypnotic electric riff of Small Things with hearty padded drum beats opened the show. From there onwards Ben simultaneously pulled off vocals whilst alternating between Electric and Acoustic Guitar; both exceptionally. The carefully placed dynamics orchestrated by the band was a highlight of the 1 ½ hour set. I was reminded a few times of John Butler Trio with Ben's vocals and the bands uncategorical rhythms.
For a singer that has proclaimed to write from personal experiences usually based on women and love, his songs come across as wide scale rather than self-pitying or whiny. What they do come across as is real and within an arm's reach of the listener. The uplifting anthem Keep Your Head Up was a crowd favourite and showcased his connection to his audience. I really enjoyed The Wolves, a fast paced foot stomping tune and the mesmerizing Black Flies.
Ben and his band ended with The Fear that even further showcased the talent of the band members then did an unprepared encore of Old Pine which I was glad Auckland begged for. Ben Howard and his band left me wanting more.