Clad in a pair of black jeans and a black t-shirt with copious amounts of surf wax settled in his roughed-up hair, Ben Howard certainly knew how to make a calm, collected and oh so cool appearance on stage. Leicester willingly played host to the 25 year old folk singer-songwriter and his grounding melodies in November at the O2 Academy.
Supported by Willy Mason, a 28 year old blues singer-songwriter from America, Ben Howard wooed the crowd with an amalgamation, of beautiful music, enchanting lyrics and even a minor hair catastrophe. Having burst onto the stage to much cheering and wolf-whistling, he was then privy to an inordinate amount of the crowd gesticulating and hollering about the overly zealous hair that stood proud like an antennae from his head and once patted down, made a gradual return to form by the end of an impressive set.
The crowd were engaged from the start and the atmosphere was eye-opening. Rather than the usual mosh-pits and anarchy that are stereotypical of the ‘gig scene’, Mason and Howard’s music brought about a serenity and energy in the crowd that had them chanting happy birthday to Mason, singing along and interacting with the acts as though they were part of the crowd.
Howard seemed just as at home playing alone, sat on stage with just his guitar, as he did with his supporting band. This meant that he could successfully tackle both slow, gentle songs as well as the more up-tempo numbers.
Armed with an arsenal of songs from his debut album ‘Every Kingdom’ Ben Howard serenaded the audience with classics like ‘Only Love’ and ‘The Wolves’. His quirky and somewhat intriguing tone resonated round the academy with all ears on a superb performance of down-to-earth music. No-one could help but leave with the ever so cliché ‘feel-good factor’ and the knowledge that they probably haven’t spent a better £16 in a very long time (if at all).
With a number of shows yet to complete during February and April of this year, the London born musician has no need to worry about disappointing his audience. There’s no need for him to keep searching, Ben Howard has most certainly found himself and he belongs on stage sharing his music with the masses whilst wearing maybe a little too much surf wax.