passenger: whispers tour


If Birmingham has one thing going for it, I would say it is the music scene. It would be tough to find an evening where there isn't a band playing somewhere across the city. And, most usually, they are bands worth watching. The O2 Academy frequently plays host to well-known artists - over the next few weeks the likes of James Bay, Lily Allen and Professor Green will be pleasing crowds - and this evening was no exception. Just over a year since his last visit and with a new album under his belt, it was the turn of Passenger (or, as he likes to put it, "just Mike") to take to the stage. 

When someone appreciates music as much as Mike Rosenberg, you can count on him to choose a support act worth watching. And when you know that radio legend Bob Harris is also a fan, you've got to start asking yourself questions if you don't turn up early to catch their set. From their stunning a cappella opening to their final foot-stomping number, The Once proved to all those who may have been a little sceptical just why they deserve to be sharing the stage with Passenger. Stunning voices, a sound occasionally reminiscent of Mumford & Sons, and Canadian humour to boot. What more could you want?

While he may joke about the fact that he's just one guy with his guitar on stage, Passenger isn't someone who needs the support of a band. Although there is something magical about his studio albums with their inclusion of percussion and strings and additional vocals, there is something even more magical about realising his music is so beautiful that it doesn't need the added extras for it to blow you away. To spend an evening in the company of Mike Rosenberg is to spend an evening with a friend. It sounds bizarre, but his concerts are so much more than just a musician playing on stage while everyone sings along. There is comedy, there are anecdotes, there is silence, there is noise. You become a part of something; there is a feeling of mutual appreciation. It goes above and beyond the music. 

To see how far Passenger has come in the space of a year is something else. Last year's concert now feels timid in comparison with this one. There was so much energy and joy radiating from him, which in turn fed into the crowd - I never though that the words "sweaty little monster" would make me laugh quite so hard. Birmingham may not be home to the jolliest bunch of people in the world, but when you see someone enjoying themselves that much you can't not join in. Be it his own or a cover, every single song was absolutely wonderful - The Sound of Silence knocks me for six every time - and the graphics which accompanied them were nothing short of perfect. I left the gig with red hands, a hoarse voice, and a very happy heart. There's a lot of work to do if you want to top this one, sir.

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