Posted by Jessica Salter.
Reviewed on 23rd October 2011.
Live at Brudenell Social Club on Tuesday, 18th October 2011
On his first sold out album tour, Ben Howard plays the magical Brudenell Social Club, a place full of history and memorable performances. Howard proves to fit in, providing a truly charming evening.
The packed out Brudenell eagerly awaits Ben Howard and his band and once they take to the stage a silence spreads across the room as the eerie chords to 'Diamonds' are the only sounds heard. Howard's influence upon the crowd is already so strong in these first few moments of the performance that the whole room is memorised by his raw vocals and distinctive guitar playing.
As 'Diamonds' speeds up you can't help but be drawn to Howard's band, comprised of the talented India Bourne on cello and Chris Bond on drums, these two musicians cannot just be considered as Howard's backing band, their talent and importance are essential in order to create and enhance Howard's lyricism and sound.
As the gentle opening of 'Old Pine' is heard, the crowd is captivated by the atmospheric sound, in addition to Howard's discrete skills of guitar playing, literally playing the guitar faced up, on its side. This unique ability of his captures his distinctive, natural sound, something which not all musicians are able to produce.
This is particularly enhanced during 'Under the same sun,' where he literally drums the guitar creating an almost tribal sound. Yet, watching this occur, you are memorised by his manipulation of the guitar and the pleasant sound produced. Fittingly, Howard's vocals continue to captivate the audience whilst further emphasising his artistic talent.
Howard's interaction and banter with the audience also captures the laidback and intimate atmosphere due to his charm and humble nature towards his fans. He then plays 'Everything' a gentle love song and title track of his debut album 'Every Kingdom.' Again silence falls across the room as the audience are entranced by the intensity of the song. This is also the case with 'London,' from the early EP 'These Waters' a song not originally in the set list, but requested by an audience member, which portrays to us the uniqueness of each of Howard's performances during this tour.
Although up to this point Howard's set mainly consists of intense, slow songs, 'The Fear,' produces a more upbeat sound that compliments Howard's diversity. Recent single, 'Keep your head up' then follows with adoration from the crowd who sing and dance along, mirroring the joy Howard and his band are experiencing on stage. With spirits high, Howard dives into those unique opening howls of 'Wolves' which forces the crowd to join in. Ending the set on this, Howard teases the crowd who are yearning for more; howling for an encore.
Howard obliges coming back onto stage alone, admitting that this night has been one of his favourites of the tour, therefore offering the crowd an exclusive gift of 'Bones' an intense song which has the power to silence the joyful crowd. As the song progresses, the intensity and emotion of it is so great, underlining Howard's extraordinary talent which produces the highlight of the night. Not wanting to end the night on a sombre note, Howard finishes with 'Move like you want to,' bringing out his band and creating an upbeat atmosphere with the crowd dancing along to the strong guitar and romantic lyrics.
As Howard leaves the stage for the final time, his impact upon the Brudenell is clear; providing a truly memorable night whilst continuing to assert his talent and ever growing success.