Review: Ben Howard rocks the Old Firestation Bournemouth

Picture: Hannah SmithsonPicture: Hannah Smithson

SOLD out across the country for weeks before the gig, it was almost nigh on impossible to get tickets to see new up-and-coming folk star, Ben Howard, last night in Bournemouth. I now know why.

The 24-year-old singer songwriter, from Totnes in Devon, had Bournemouth’s Student Union, The Old Firestation, transformed; with fans queuing to hear songs from his recently released debut albumn, Every Kingdom, which went straight to number seven in the albumn charts.

Touring till mid December, Ben and his close knit band have been travelling around the country, playing to a close following of fans, some inspired by his flowing folksy rhythms and some attracted to his music and surfing lifestyle.

Tom Farr, 19, came from Portsmouth with his family and younger brother, George Farr, 16, who are both surfers and massive fans: “we’ve been listening to Ben for a few years” , says older brother Tom.

“I’m looking forward to hearing tracks, ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘London’.”

He said: “One of my friends whose seen him live said it’s one gig you have to see before you die.”

“His lyrics are really good, really meaningful and really different, which is quite hard to find nowadays.”

Likened to the soulful sound of Bon Iver and folk group Mumford and Sons, Ben Howard almost fits a genre of his own, part of the new wave of folk that’s climbing its way back to popularity.

Finally the background jazz/hotel foyer music dies down and the side door opens as the security guard donnes his earphones. Ben enters wearing an oversized white t-shirt, that says ‘All down the line’, baggy jeans and blue plimsoles, with a white ceramic tea mug and guitar in hand. I can see this is going to be for want of a better word, one ‘cool’ gig!

Himself and his three man band, consisting of Plymouth based Holly Bourne and Chris Bond, who are both multi-musically talented, bringing out violins, cellos and maraccas into the musical mix.

Ben jokes half way through, saying: “Wow, the student union in Bournemouth is nice – you guys did well. We played in Plymouth last week and it was a rubbish. Sorry Holly and Chris – they come from there.”

The two hour gig consists of mainly songs from the new albumn including best known, ‘The Wolves’ and ‘Old Pine’ as well as some older Eps such as ‘London’, the band decidedly play for their encore.

In between his amazing guitar tapping, merging chord progressions and incredible vocals, a slightly awkward stage presence makes him all the more charming and when asked what he had for breakfast he recoils and says he can’t remember that far back: “It’s been mental, these last few months have been crazy. Thank you Bournemouth, you’ve been a wild bunch.”

A final sing along with the audience and salute off stage and its over, but I could listen to it all again from the countless videos I took on my camera.

After the show, I catch a few words with Ben and the Band:

Daily Echo: How was it playing in Bournemouth?

Ben Howard: Bournemouth’s cool, it’s been amazing so far. Tonight was wicked.

Ben Howard will be continuing the Every Kingdom tour, playing in Bristol next week. If you can catch him, definitely don’t miss him!


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About hannahsmithson

Hi I'm Hannah. I've just graduated from Bournemouth University with a first class honors in Multimedia Journalism and am about to adventure off to the other side of the world to work in the Falkland Islands for FITV. I am excited about my future prospects in Journalism and here is my blog where I document most of my experiences. Please get in touch if you want to chat...

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