Concert Review: Ben Howard, April 5, Mod Club

Ben Howard is a British folkie whose star definitely seems to be on the rise.  He made a big impact at this year’s SXSW, impressing Gary as well as some British woman I shared a shuttle bus with one night.  That informal poll of exactly two people suggested to me that he was going places, obviously.  The thing is, I had never heard of this guy until SXSW, yet apparently he’s pretty huge already.  So before the show, I took it upon myself to familiarize myself with his debut album Every Kingdom.  First impression after a few listens: production-wise, the album sounded great and Howard’s got quite a few catchy songs.  The impression I got was that he’s kind of like the Brit answer to Ray LaMontagne.  He’s got that same sort of vibe to his performance as well as sharing an ability with LaMontagne to attract a largely female audience.  

Walking into the Mod Club shortly before 8:30 on a Thursday night, I really didn’t expect this place to be as packed as it was.  I take it that Howard and his bandmates were also a little taken aback and pleasantly surprised by the turnout as well.  There was a fair bit of enthusiasm on display from the audience and more than a few shouts of “I Love You Ben!” (and at least one fellow who professed his love for Howard’s bass player)  With that kind of enthusiasm, it’s easy to get swept up in it all.  I even found myself joining in on the singalongs for songs like “Old Pine” and “Keep Your Head Up,” though I imagine it didn’t have quite the same effect as when Gary saw him play a church.

Not that everyone in attendance was entirely enamoured of the show that night.  I overheard one (drunk) girl in the crowd complaining that the rest of the audience weren’t quite into it enough: “No one’s enjoying themselves.  They’re all chill.”  Another guy outside commented that the show was “…underwhelming.  A lot of wanking and it wasn’t even interesting wanking.”  Yes, I like to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations and later quote them in my reviews … don’t judge me.  All complaints aside though, Howard knows how to put on a fairly impressive show.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts