Ben Howard + Daughter @ Birmingham HMV Institute – 29th February 2012

Ben Howard + Daughter @ Birmingham HMV Institute – 29th February 2012

Ben Howard at the HMV Institute, Birmingham

Releasing his debut album Every Kingdom is September of last year; 23 year old Ben Howard has had a relatively speedy and effective rise in the public eye through exposure on daytime radio and word of mouth among music fans alike. Residing from Devon, his mixture of folk, catchy melodies and dark lyrics, he was asked to sign to Island Records, giving him a wide audience of all sexes and ages, basically all who can appreciate his raw and unmanipulated talent. Gaining silver certification within the UK, tonight’s 1,500 venue could be considered a warm up for the larger venues he’ll be visiting in November such as the O2 Academy in our dear city.

Daughter (Supporting Ben Howard) at the HMV Institute, Birmingham

Firstly this evening, are North London trio Daughter, making a sound with acoustic roots with an indie tinged female image with singer Elena Tonra being backed by a duo taking up guitar and percussive duties. Reminding me personally of Lucy Rose, it’s typical acoustic music written by a woman, however there is a great deal of craft and obvious care gone into these songs, with a quietly receptive audience who’re happy to admire and take note of what they’re experiencing. Mixing wise, when the songs were playing the vocals shone out for all to see, however between song banter was limited due to the fact you couldn’t hear what was being said. An obvious talent, I hope to hear more in the future.

Ben Howard at the HMV Institute, Birmingham

Listening to conversations before the concert began, it become obvious that many punters who had turned up tonight had before seen Ben Howard and come back to recapture the wonder and amazement they had first experienced seeing him as a support act at various venues around the country. Without a fanfare, Howard entered the stage to a huge applause of true support and will for him to perform as his talent is so wise and crafted, breaking slowly into b-side Depth Over Distance which crept into a loud vocal crescendo that set the bar for the rest of the show. Dipping and falling, from the near silent tinkling of an acoustic guitar to the loud crash of a full size drum kit, participants of the evening were permanently kept engaged, with Only Love opening up the songs that the audience were aware of, either singing in full voice or standing to admire. Two new songs were debuted tonight following in the same vein of past material, whilst personal highlights included Old Pine and Black Flies, both performed with pure excellence and elegance.

Ben Howard at the HMV Institute, Birmingham

In terms of stage setup, Ben was complemented by a range of multi instrumentalists which helped broaden and magnify the audio magnitude of the songs that Ben Howard has created, whilst the well complemented lighting helped create the sepia tones associated with the feelings he evokes. Having an album release planned in April for America, all my best wishes are with him however we hope, like some, we don’t lose such a talent over the ocean. Genuinely a genuine act.

Ben Howard at the HMV Institute, Birmingham
Reviewer – Dan Earl

Photographer – James Michael Hough

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