Ben Howard live: A disappointment

I WOULD never have said I was Ben Howard’s biggest fan. Neither would I have chosen to have seen him live. But, when my mum said she no longer wanted her ticket, I couldn’t say no. I went in to the gig with low to no expectations of it being anything to compare to some of the other acts I have seen in the past. Sometimes no expectations are a good thing, because there is always the chance of being pleasantly surprised. This wasn’t one of those cases.

We arrived just in time for Howard to come on stage. Nothing bad could be said about the atmosphere; the crowd were extremely excited, the arena was busy and vivacious. However, when Howard came on stage he proceeded to simply sit down. His energy was comparable to that of a support act. The lighting was so dark on stage you could barely see him; which could have been done to create an artistic ambience, and amplify his voice. That would have been a completely valid decision… if the audience could hear what he was saying. Whilst Ben Howard’s vocal aesthetic is certainly leaning towards ‘crooned mumbles’, his lack of pauses between words and shocking diction was frustrating at least, and a joke at most. This was made even worse because his guitar and the other instruments in his band were louder than his microphone. On the up side, the graphics on his back drop were really funky. But funky graphics don’t make gigs worth going to. 15519296854_3e81227edf_h

As well as this, he didn’t play any of his well known tracks such as ‘Only Love’ or ‘Diamonds’. He did play ‘Keep Your Head Up’, ‘Rivers In Your Mouth’, ‘She Treats Me Well’, ‘I Forget Where We Were’, ‘Back Flies’, ‘Esmerelda’ and a cover of ‘Hideaway’. I realise that most of these songs are from his new album, which he was obviously promoting, but you would expect artists like him to play his most popular songs, even if they are older. Considering he won a Brit award for ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’, you would have thought his live set up would be better. Besides the points aforementioned, I think, even at the highest level of intoxication, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the gig – though not for lack of trying. People seemed to feel my pain, as I heard a lot of people complaining, and some people even left midway. It seems like quite a few artists of late are losing their following due to how vastly different they are live and on their albums; and fans don’t want to pay for it anymore. I am just glad that my ticket was free…