I WAS THERE | BEN HOWARD @ CORNER HOTEL – 08.04.13
On the 6th of April, Ben Howard fans were disappointed to hear that due to his loss of voice, his show at the Corner Hotel would have to be postponed. However, this unfortunate circumstance was well and truly made up for on the following Monday as Ben Howard treated his fans to a truly unforgettable experience.
The night began with the folky-stylings of singer/songwriter Willy Mason which perfectly complemented the night to follow. When Ben Howard first came onto the stage, his down to earth nature was immediately evident. The Corner Hotel was soon transformed with the intimacy of what felt like a small living room. Ben’s musical talent is hard to deny, and his intricate guitar work is soothing to the ears. Despite the health scare two days earlier, his voice seemed as flawless as always, and the fact that he was able to joke along with the crowd made the evening even more enjoyable. The connection between him and his band (India Bourne and Chris Bond) is obviously strong, and this added to the seamlessness of the music. The use of a cello as well as your traditional folky/alt. rock instruments gave the songs real variety.
I have never before experienced a show with such a hauntingly beautiful ambience. There really is something magical about Ben Howard’s music, which seems to be amplified when being played live. Perhaps it is Ben himself, or the bare fibres of the subject matter in his music, but the emotional response of the crowd seems unparallel to anything that could be felt via a recording. Ben’s ability to go from gentle guitar plucking to all out strumming was notable, and another example of his versatility. The plucking was so beautiful that it often left the room silent whereas the latter invoked a fast paced “swaying” response from the crowd.
Ben played a variety of songs from his debut album and EPs. He kicked off the night with the sombre “Everything”, which instantly left the crowd mesmerised. The mood soon escalated during “Black Flies” and it was obvious that the crowd were getting into it. “Old Pine” was helped along by the crowd who seemed to sing every word, while “Keep Your Head Up” had a similar response. Ben laughed off the false start to “Only Love” while he fumbled around with his guitars. This was soon forgotten as he launched into the crowd favourite.
Overall, Ben Howard succeeded in creating an electric, intoxicating and yet delicate atmosphere, a combination which is difficult to obtain and even more difficult to perfect. As clichéd as it may sound, I left that show feeling like a new person – someone who had just been subjected to some of the most beautiful live music available to us today and who’s expectations for brilliant musicianship had just been raised. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity of seeing this amazing man live, don’t pass it up. It’s not something you’d ever want to miss.
By Claudia Lombard