Review & Gallery: Ben Howard, Wolves Civic

It isn’t often that live performances sounds as flawless as the carefully edited versions of the songs do on a CD.

Often gigs make up for any imperfections through special effects and atmosphere, and whilst the atmosphere at Ben Howard’s concert at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall wasn’t perfect – Howard seemed unsure of what to say to the crowd, often opting to say nothing instead between songs – his performance and that of the band was.

And anyway, few (if any) of us went to see Ben Howard for the chat and the bants. We went for the music, and that is what Howard delivered.

Constantly changing between guitars for different songs, Howard showed off his skill on both the electric and acoustic versions, musical skills that were matched by his band, particularly India Bourne who switched between a cello, a bass guitar, drums, a keyboard, she sang, and not forgetting the mighty tambourine.

To the slight disappointment of fans (well myself anyway) the concert focused more heavily on his new material, and although old favourites made appearances, these were less predominant than some of us would have liked. For some reason Howard failed to play Keep Your Head Up – the song that cemented his emergence into mainstream British music – and if Only Love and Old Pine were anything to go by, the inclusion of more of his back catalogue would have got an at times reticent audience more involved.

The show kept special effects to a minimum, for example lasers and taking-yourself-too-seriously background videos did not make an appearance. This lack of added extras fitted the gig's chilled-out feel perfectly and ensured the focus remained on the remarkable sounds produced by the band instead.

In a performance that was based on music and talent, anything other than these would have felt forced and out-of-place.

In short: I liked it.

By Alex Binley
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