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Ben Howard, Southampton Guildhall
THERE aren’t many musicians that sound better on stage than they do on their pre-recorded album, but Ben Howard does.
Howard, who cites James Taylor and Bob Dylan as his musical inspirations, has been praised for his unique voice and talent since his debut album Every Kingdom was released in 2011. And judging by this show, he deserves all the praise he gets.
Hundreds of adoring fans crammed into the packed out venue to watch two hours of pure music – and that’s what they got. There were no flashy stage designs, acrobatics or funny one-liners. It was simply the musician, his band, a guitar and his incredible voice. Many musicians want to show their performance capabilities but it was refreshing to see Howard completely consumed by the music.
There was a slight vulnerability to his performance too – demonstrated by his shyness on stage and humble reaction to his fans – which made the show even more intriguing. There was an electric atmosphere for most of the night as Howard played some of his haunting tracks including Diamonds and Old Pine which had everyone chanting his name. But it was upbeat, well known tunes like Wolves that had everybody stomping in unison and asking for more. Songs were also played from his newly released The Burgh Island EP.
Even with new material and fame, the musician stays true to his melodic folk music roots and appears eternally grateful to his faithful fan following – traits he hopefully will never lose.