Earlier this year prolific UK singer-songwriter Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) released his tenth album, Runaway (click for our album review).
Last Sunday night he returned to what he promised us is one of his favourite venues to play, the Enmore Theatre, for a sold out Sydney show celebrating his new release as well as old favourites including, as he joked, "that one song" we all know.
It was a lovely mix of tracks from different times of his career, plus some not featured on any of his records. And interspersed throughout was a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating banter that generated an impressively reliable stream of chuckles between the music.
Describing the gig early on in the night as "Me and a guitar playing sensitive folk songs all night" and frequently poking fun at his genre and his disproportionately well known single "Let her go", Rosenberg kept us onboard through the evening and surely convinced the crowd of there being a down-to-earth, downright pleasant human being behind all the glamour.
Familiar hits had fans singing along right from the start, where others evoked an attentive silence. An old song that has not been included on an album was a thoughtful tribute to a homeless gentleman named David, and Rosenberg's formative experiences on the road, staying at hostels he might and might not recommend.
From the new album, tracks "Hell or high water" and "Survivors" were clearly already becoming hits, and Rosenberg delivered moving performances that developed on the existing tracks on the record. Where other past songs were treated to an energetic new guitar riff or thumping bass drum, "Survivors" became harrowingly sombre in live form, demonstrating the singer's commitment to ongoing interpretation of his music.
Was it the trick of the light? Or a shot in the dark?
Was it hell or high water that broke our hearts?
Was it something you said? Or just a cruel twist of fate?
Was it hell or high water and is it too late?
- Hell or High Water, '
The amusingly polite and humble singer repeatedly asked if we were "having a nice time" and told the crowd "you're f***ing lovely".
Indeed both Rosenberg and his support act, Winterbourne, were full of heartfelt praise and appreciation for the thoughtful, respectful, mostly quiet audience that actually hushed up and listened during the performances. It was a genuine sentiment that no doubt only further enhanced the connection and loyalty between the thousands of fans and their well loved artist.
Speaking of Winterbourne, this Sydney duo of James Draper & Jordan Brady are a charismatic outfit who also trace their origins to busking, for them it was on the streets of Sydney's CBD not that many years ago. Now they're touring nationally, supporting acts like Passenger and about to release their debut album. Keep an ear out, Passenger fans.
Passenger does what he does well, has a reliable ability to captivate a crowd and delivers a musically consistent and emotive performance. This was a solid example of his talent.
Runaway is out now via Black Crow Records and the artist's website