If you love good music but a bit of stand-up comedy also tickles your fancy, a Passenger concert would be the perfect night out for you.
On Friday I headed along to the Powerstation to see Mike Rosenberg aka Passenger live. The British folk-rock singer was back in New Zealand for the second time this year. He was here in March to open for Ed Sheeran on tour – but now it’s certain, this is an artist worthy of his own show and that was reflected in his sell out gigs in Auckland and Wellington.
He had stiff competition with Taylor Swift playing a sell out Vector Arena and pop superstar DJ David Guetta playing the Our House Festival the same night. But that didn’t deter a loyal fan base who turned up ready to savour his unique sound and sing every word when prompted.
Passenger’s performance was flawless. If you break it down he had a bit of everything. He played all the favourites with encouraged crowd singalongs, new songs had the audience mesmerised in silence and when he mashed up tunes from his latest album All the Little Lights with Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Haddaways What is Love he certainly had everyone grinning.
An introductory tale about meeting the cancer-ridden subject of his next song had people (me included) close to tears, once the song started there was no hope of holding it in. As soon as I got home I was straight onto iTunes to download Riding to New York.
The hilarious song I Hate, an Irish jig pub-sounding ballad about the things in life which piss him off, went down a treat with the audience who sang along to every word, cheering at the lines which struck a chord with them. I was thrilled as a concert junkie later in the act when he appropriately stopped mid-song, to repeat the line “I hate when people pay money to see a gig and talk through every f**king song” in order to silence a drunken bunch who were chatting loudly through a beautifully harmonized version of Heart on Fire. For this song he was joined on stage by Kiwi musician Luke Thompson and his band mate, the three sharing one microphone and singing with spine-tingling clarity. Thompson also played a wonderful opening set.
Half the wonder of the gig was Rosenberg’s ability to entertain. It was only him, his guitar and a mic on stage yet he had incredible presence. Half the time the mic wasn’t even used, given the audience a real taste of who the man, who made a name for himself as a busker, really is. There was a lot of talking between each song, but no chance of it getting boring as it can with other performers; Passenger is a hilarious man and the constant jokes he cracked, also often mid-tune, provided a light-hearted element to what he described as “a night of singing all his really depressing songs”.
It was certainly a concert to remember, I’ll be lining up to see him again. There’s only more to come with this fantastic new artist and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.