REVIEW: BEN HOWARD AT BRISTOL THEKLA (14/10/11)
For a small rural Devon town, Totnes has produced some great musicians recently such as Cosmo Jarvis and Joseph Mount of Metronomy fame. There is now another to add to the list, Ben Howard, one of the rising stars of the indie folk scene with every UK October and November date of his ‘Every Kingdom’ tour sold out. His gig at the Thekla was no exception with a capacity crowd of all ages and backgrounds demonstrating his across the board appeal.
Ben turned up on stage looking like he had just got out of bed and to complete the look was sipping on a mug of what could have been tea though was quite possibly something with a little more poke. He kicked the set off with an up-tempo number then quickly brought it down to play some beautiful atmospheric songs to the hushed crowd. It was lovely to hear the bowels of the Thekla resonating to the sounds of a double base played, strangely enough, by his drummer whilst his cellist played the drums. It turns out he has a multi talented band backing him up with strings, percussion and vocals exchanged with ease. His set built in energy and pace as it progressed with songs such as ‘Depth Over Distance’ demonstrating a vocal and song writing talent well beyond his 23 years.
He finished up the performance with his most commercially successful songs ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘Wolves’ before being coaxed back onto stage for an encore by the crowd howling the tune from Wolves till he appeared.
My only criticism of the night was his use of a Phil Collins style reverb on a few of the songs which, in my opinion, was totally unnecessary. He has a fantastic balance of power and subtlety in his voice and adding effects detracted from this.
If you get the chance to see Ben perform do so now whilst he is still playing relatively small venues as I fear it won’t be this way for long. His album ‘Every Kingdom’ is out now and his remaining UK and European tour dates can be found at www.myspace.com/benhoward.
Words and photo: Ben Bryant-Mole
by 247 Magazine