Words: Holly Macnaghten


Last night, in a packed out room with seemingly no ventilation, I waited with baited breath for the haunting vocals and heartfelt lyrics of Ben Howard to come on stage.

It would have been a tough task for anyone to try and sing over the chattering excitement of the audience, but Daughter (aka Elena Tonra) with her elf-like stage presence and touching lyrics was hard to avoid. As Howard himself later confessed, her songs will, “get into your heart and…er…fuck you up’’.

Within the first 5 seconds of Howard’s percussive guitar opening to “Depth over Distance” the audience was silenced.  Still and captivated, the crowd not only locked into the vocals of Devonshire raised Ben Howard but were also gripped by his soulful lyrics and school-boy-charm.  He has seriously mastered the knack for a good hook too – enabling every member of the audience to sing along, erupting to the upbeat nature of the likes ofDiamonds”, “Old Pine” and “Keep Your Head Up”. Every time they cheered, screamed or sung, he seemed genuinely touched that they had all turned out to see him, giving an enchantingly shy smile back.

Lyrically, on a scale of 1 to Adele, many of his songs appear to reach at least a solid 7 on the break-up/lost love front, but are often masked by the volume of the music, turning them into a power ballad that makes you want to fall in love all over again rather than shut it out forever, especially resonant in “Black Flies” and “Gracious”

As you can probably guess – I’m a bit of a fan.  In fact, I could probably write an entire book about this gig alone, but luckily for you I simply don’t know enough synonyms for ‘amazing’.

On a personal level, Howard’s album Every Kingdom was…(cliché alert)…the soundtrack to my summer.  After one YouTube listen to “Old Pine” whilst on holiday in July – I was hook, line and sinker, a little bit in love.  This gig certainly re-affirmed this feeling.  My highlight would have to be “The Wolves” where the ‘Love Love Love’s’ built up gradually as Howard put every physical and emotional effort into each line – as did the audience.  Every time the lights shone onto the crowd, I, along with every other girl in the room, was quietly hoping that he might just fall in ‘Love, Love, Love’ with me.

Image: Courtesy of Stay Loose Digital Group


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