Ben Howard – Fremantle Arts Centre

– by Hannah Nissen

Fresh from taking out two Brit awards this year (Best male and British breakthrough), and wrapping up months of extensive overseas touring, Ben Howard bought his ambivalent performance to the Fremantle Arts Centre last week that was undeniably a unique and intimate experience.

The stage was a constant flurry of shadows as band members entered and exited the stage for each song. This movement on stage and the combination of lighting and projections over the trees helped set the tone of his performance. No fancy showbiz, auto-tune or excessive drama was needed to create interest and entertain the masses here, just simple, raw talent.

The venue was an asset to the evening. The amphitheatre provided space for picnickers and a large standing crowd to revel in the massive sound that came from Howard so naturally, it was almost haunting. Around me, I heard my fellow swaying punters drawing comparisons to José González and Ed Sheeran; probably based upon how intensely and passionately Howard delivers his lyrics.

The first few chords of the hit ‘Only Love’ brought a more exaggerated, hip sway to take over the amphitheatre. Everyone was moving in their own way, to their own interpretation of the lyrics. With a hat pulled down over his face and eyes closed, Howard gave off an introverted vibe in his performance. This is understandable as his love songs are so deep, and the emotion that he pours into the delivery can only stem from experiencing the situations first-hand. Or perhaps, he is merely reclusive, due to his whirlwind success and the flurry of people chanting his name. Either way, the sound that resonated from behind his tilted-down hat, was anything but withheld.

Closing the evening with fan favourite ‘The Fear,’ I was left wanting more as I walk out into the cold reality outside the amphitheatre, where I was left with a taste of nostalgia and a subliminal message to call an ex-boyfriend.

Photo Credit: Ben Howard

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