Knock-out performance from laid back new star
BEN Howard is a star – quiet, modest and immensely talented. Whether he is crouched over his guitar, wooing the women of Bristol into a romantic daze, or thronging away with his magically musical band members – he does it incredibly well.
His folky flavour has been warmly welcomed in his home town of Totnes in Devon, as well as up and down the country, with his upcoming tour dates selling out in minutes. Taking into account that his debut album, Every Kingdom, was only released in September last year, his immediate popularity is pretty impressive.
So what is it about Ben Howard that is so appealing?
Well, he has that laid back, sun-kissed and surf-swept look that you can't fail to admire. But it is more than that. There is a huge and welcome connection between his music and his surroundings. Nature reigns supreme in his lyrics and his tone of voice. The sea, the winding country roads, daunting cliff faces, sharp winds and wide skies, transcend into his music, so that we too can grasp the ebb and flow of the sea and link it to our own continuous vicissitudes – without even moving from the comfort of our midland dwellings.
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But, there is more still. He performs with real delicacy and consideration. He quietly delighted fans when he played his classics, Only Love and Old Pine, and then he got everyone toe tapping and thigh slapping when he played The Wolves, Keep Your Head Up and The Fear.
You could compare Ben Howard to many musical legends of a similar ilk, from Bob Dylan to Jose Gonzalez.
But Ben has clearly only been inspired and energised by his predecessors, there are little signs of imitation or repetition here. He is a breath a fresh air in a polluted, overcrowded, and crass marketplace.
Bar a few minor technical issues and the wild adolescent declarations of love throughout, this was a knockout performance. Catch him if you can.