Ben Howard

It’s not often that you’re more excited about the support act than the main event when you attend a gig – especially when it is to see the flavour of the moment Ben Howard – but that’s exactly how I felt as we made our way to a sodden O2 along with a multitude of other gig goers all anticipating a cracking night of folk/pop fusion with Messrs’ Ben Howard and America’s little known Willy Mason.

On entering the packed venue it became apparent that there were lots of people donning taches (mainly men) and glasses. Movember or just indicative of artists we were due to see?

Willy Mason

With little time to ponder this facially follicular conundrum the aforementioned support act made his way to the stage in the shape of the laid back crooner who brought his own unique blend of country folk to proceedings.

Almost horizontal in his approach the native of Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts strummed away on his guitar accompanied with his baritone like vocal in perfect harmony. It was a shame that there was a lot of chatter in the crowd, but it seemed to deter the singer not a jot as he glided through his set culminating in the popular ‘Oxygen’ and a splendid stripped back version of ‘We can be Strong’.

Ben Howard

Before Ben Howard made his way to the stage two things struck me – one literally. Like a truck. A big one! Firstly and fairly bizarrely a number of people were pulled out of the ‘mosh pit’ pre gig by the security team – certainly not what you expect from a ‘folk off’.

Secondly and more disturbingly I had the unfortunate displeasure of ingesting the Worlds smelliest fart – think a combination of the contents of a 1000 year old cesspit together with the fruition of eating a kilogram of sprouts. Whoever the culprit was I salute you.

Ben Howard

As the rather handsome main event made his way to the stage and uttered his first, somewhat unfathomable words there was the customary response of a multitude of high pitched whooping from the female contingent. Go figure!

Despite a Low key atmospheric start to the set, it soon became clear that the audience were hanging on every word of the songmeister. Yep – they loved him. Having never seen him before it became instantly apparent why the audience adore the Devonshire lad and why he is the current media darling. Good looks, silky smooth vocal, decent guitar-manship and nice melodic songs. Splendid!

Ben Howard

As is standard practice with this type of gig (cite Band of Horses, Michael Kiwanuka to mention a couple) there were lots of couples staring intently into one another’s eyes and clinging intently to one another. It was far from Gypsy ‘grabbing’ but was most certainly a veritable love fest. “This is a new one” pronounced the seemingly shy singer as he pumped into a more upbeat number with a driving repetitive riff. It was well received. Amongst new tunes for the future were crowd pleasers expertly performed such as the delightful ‘Wolves’- the woohooo song which signalled much shoulder bobbing – and the gorgeous ‘Old Pine’.

Ben Howard

Unfortunately, and as is often the case with a weekend gig there was way too much audience ‘jibba jabba’ during the songs which was a pity but this seemed not to deter the likeable singer and he ploughed on regardless to the obvious delight of the vast majority of the crowd – all of whom were having a great time. For me ‘Keep your Head Up’ was the best song and epitomised everything that is great about young Mr Howard. Plinky-plonky guitar intro, silky smooth vocal followed by a bouncy tune with an ultra-catchy chorus. Excellent work young man!

Ben Howard

At the end of the 90 minute set he took time out to pay his respect to his support act and also showed his cheeky side by heckling the balcony. Nice touch! Then that was it. Lights up, punters heading towards the exit smiling at the memory of a great night until they reached the door and realised it was a virtual monsoon outside!

Gig Review by Zak Edwards
Ben Howard Photos by Bianca Barrett. Willy Mason Photos by Katja Ogrin

One Response to “Ben Howard + Willy Mason @ The O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK – 24th November 2012”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Rodrigo y Gabriela + Nick Mulvey @ The HMV Institute, Birmingham, UK – 25th November 2012 Says:

    […] on to the stage to provide solo support. Unlike the previous night when I reviewed the impressive Ben Howard, the crowd went instantly quiet as Mr Mulvey started gently plucking his guitar – a higher […]

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