Simply a man and his music, Ben Howard delivered heart-pounding performances of his old and new folk-rock songs at the packed Shrine Expo in Los Angeles. The English singer/songwriter premiered songs from his four-month-old sophomore album, I Forget Where We Were, opening with “Small Things,” a tune that draws deep from the moody folk roots that Howard embodies with both his guitar and his voice.
The dim backlighting and fog-dense air set around Howard’s frame as he carried the audience through new, vibrant songs “Time is Dancing,” “In Dreams” and “Conrad.” The often tormented lyrics of his music strike deep, pulling the audience in for a slow ride and then jolting them back to life with jovial chants and guitar percussion. Howard let his shaky vocals ebb with heartfelt shouts during his debut album Every Kingdom’s more melancholy songs, “Black Flies” and “The Fear,” bringing the audience together with chants and clapping hands.
This evergreen artist is finishing the last leg of his sold-out U.S. tour this month by heading up the Pacific Coast, followed by consecutive tours to Australia, the UK and Ireland. Howard gave a straightforward performance with no bells and whistles—he doesn’t need them. He is a true musician, and it shows.
– Jessie Lingenfelter