It’s been two days now since I saw Passenger bring his latest album to life at the Opera House. I’ve finally had a moment to sit down and do a wee write up about what I witnessed and I haven’t forgotten a thing and that’s because Mike Rosenberg is bloody good at what he does. I feel convinced anyone who attends a Passenger concert will be carrying this blissful feeling of contentment for a few days too!
On Wednesday night Rosenberg showcased his new album, Young as the Morning Old as the Sea, to a full house – an impressive feat given he’s visited New Zealand to play gigs at least three times in the last five years.
When you are one of the people in the crowd you understand why his fans keep coming back. This is a talented musician (backed by a great band for the first time), but also an incredible performer. Rosenberg has the crowd as putty in his hands from the moment he walks on stage.
He talks a lot, most musicians don’t get away with this much chat on stage, but he pulls it off effortlessly with his quick wit, silly gags and most importantly, his passion. This guy may be a joker, you certainly laugh through a lot of the show, but he’s got a depth to his music and the stories he tells, something a lot of performers lack.
The songs tell the most magnificent stories already through the clever lyrics and melodies, add to that a Mike Rosenberg introduction about what inspired the track and it really takes things to another level.
This was truly the case when he played Travelling Alone – a song about two people he met while busking in different parts of the world. I loved learning about the man who was in the middle of the overseas trip he’d planned with his wife before she died, and the woman who had been left heartbroken by her 10-year-long partner. There were certainly a few tears in my eyes by the end of this stunning acoustic track.
The band was a great addition and brought the tempo of the concert up. The piano melodies, base lines and beats added an exciting layer to the newer songs like Everything, Beautiful Birds and Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea. But on his own is what Mike Rosenberg knows best and when the band left the stage or took a quieter role, he really shone.
Highlights included a very creative rendition of Paul Simon’s The Sound of Silence, in which he (funnily enough) used silence in the most effective style. 27, was upbeat and fun, as is the always hilarious ode to the crappy things in the world – I Hate. Scare Away the Dark was the perfect closer, a sing-along which led into the most effective encore build up as the crowd echoed the final melody over and over until Passenger gave us just a taste more.
He finished the set with Home for the people like me who are suckers for his soppy and slow songs, before getting everyone to their feet smiling and foot stomping to finish on Holes.
The show was a fantastic two hours of compelling music from a gifted artist who appeals to such a wide variety of people. Thanks Passenger for a fab night and the blissful after effects!