Gig Review by Emily-Camilla Stockham with Gig Photography by Lewis Bench

Ben Howard

Hammersmith Apollo was bursting at the seams with fans descending in the drove from the suitably balmy night air to catch a glimpse of folk singer Ben Howard. This 25 year old from West London has dominated the festival scene for the past couple of years and was nominated for the Mercury Prize Award before winning a Brit Award in early 2013. His debut album Every Kingdom has undoubtedly been the soundtrack to summer since its release in 2011. His folky tunes are the perfect partner to hazy sun drench days or dark and frosty nights.

Ben Howard

Ben has given a nod to the day and night theme and seasonal feel to his track with a beautiful backdrop screen showing the sea, forestry, the sunshine and beaches which sets the scene perfectly in the sold out venue.

Ben Howard

At times Ben and his band were barely visible just silhouettes on a blacked out stage singing indisputably beautiful songs. Sunny songs like:The Fear, The Wolves and Old Pine are juxtaposed by the likes of brooding and intense tracks like, Black Flies and Promise.

Ben Howard

Many of Ben’s tracks start small, building up into a crescendo that then crashes down in an acoustic- filled frenzy of hand clapping and foot stomping. The show itself took heed of this theme- starting of slow and then ending on a high with on of Ben’s previous singles, Keep your head up.

Ben Howard

Ben returned for an encore where we were treated to a solo session of Ben and his guitar. The band then joined him for one last hurrah on stage. It seemed a shame that he had not ended on his most rousing tunes, for example, The Wolves- instead he opted for a sombre ending with a slower brooding track which meant the gig had come full circle from beginning to end.

Ben Howard

Mid-way Ben showcased a new song- the name of which I’m unsure of as he once again mumbled before breaking into his typically strong vocals. Although a lovely track it was of the same ilk as other songs from his successful debut. Whilst Ben arguably has the winning formula with the racks on Every Kingdom he undoubtedly needs to show progression with his next LP in order to stay fresh and not get lost amongst the sea of male acoustic artists that have filled the charts as of late.

Ben Howard

The show felt really intimate with the crowd singing their hearts along with Ben. However, Ben’s mumbles in between songs and pretty melodies on his acoustic guitar made me question if he could ever fill a larger venue. This kind of music needs the closeness of a smaller venue so that the audience can fully appreciate every string that is plucked effortlessly. These gentle fingerpicked songs are the epitome of laidback and at times that means the crowd lull into a static state in some of the quieter tracks.

Ben Howard

I always thought that this was a must have album and seeing his talents live has reaffirmed my feelings. The crowd was full of swooning girls, loved up couples and groups of lads reflecting that there is something for everyone on this wistful album with glimmers of love, optimism and loss. If you like Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons and anything that has a bit of heart and soul you’re in for a treat with Ben Howard and co.

Ben Howard

Leave a Reply