Musician delights crowd with inspired show
Mellow electronic music played to fill the silence before the show. Inside, the light was dim, absorbed by the dark walls and floor, exemplifying a stereotypical rock music venue. It was hot, loud and smelled of old wood and fried foods.
To the sound of a roaring throng of fans last week, Ben Howard and his band walked onstage at The Troubadour on the border between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
But first, The Bahamas â starting an hour late â made it to the stage. Touring the West Coast with Ben Howard, The Bahamas consists of Toronto-based musician Afie Jurvanen and two female backup singers.
His music is simple and mellow, made up of nothing but singing and a single guitar. The harmonies were jazzy, and the sole guitar made The Bahamas sound much like the minstrels of a monarchâs court.
Jurvanen attempted to connect with the crowd in between songs without much success. He even admitted at one point that itâs easier back in Canada; perhaps the failure to connect can be attributed to a culture gap.
After The Bahamas finished its set and the crew quickly reset the staging, the crowed moved in closer as Ben Howard and his band took the stage.
Howardâs talented bandmatesÂ India Bourne and Chris Bond each played multiple instruments. Bourne does a great job with the bass guitar and drums, though her cello is mediocre at best.
Bond plays the drumset as well as the rhythm and bass guitars; both musicians provided backup vocals. Along with his bandmates, Howard showed off a pleasant voice â a high tenor comparable to that of James Blunt, though softer.
Their combined vocalizing were perfect for Howardâs songs, which were all emotionally charged. Most of Howardâs material consists of love songs, such as âOnly Love,â where Howard asks his lover to shelter him and in return he would give himself over completely.
Others are more depressing: âDiamondsâ begins with âAll I am is the bones you made for me / So garishly clean.â All his works have one quality in common: Theyâre repetitive. Every song needs a chorus or bridge that repeats and gives it cohesiveness, but it seems that most of Howardâs songs consist of nothing but these recurrences.
On top of this, Howardâs tunes often lack originality, many of his songs sounded like some sort of cross between Jack Johnson and Mumford and Sons.
But he had some tricks up his sleeve â Howard played his guitar on his lap to add beats while playing the string during âDepth Over Distance.â The song featured a mellow melody and minimal accompaniment, creating a sound reminiscent of much of Johnsonâs works.
Howard also flaunted some fretboard skills, as well. In âThe Fear,â he quickly fingered a flurry of notes on his guitar as the other two members of the band provided heavy, bass drum beats.
The band had good chemistry with the attendees, throwing around jokes about the venue resembling a strip club. Howard and Bourne even recognized some people from a previous performance and briefly reminisced with the overjoyed fans.
At one point, Howard revealed he was so nervous he wore a pair of his lucky underwear, which Bourne convinced him to show.
Ben Howard truly connected with his audience as nearly everyone kept beat by dancing or clapping. The music is catchy and the lyrics are relatable, though often mumbled. Despite Howardâs sound not being entirely new, his show proved he has the wide appeal to keep a venue thrumming to his tunes.