Review: Passenger – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Known to many as the guy who sang “Let Her Go”, Michael Rosenberg more commonly known as Passenger, proved that he was so much more than that on the night. From laughter to tears to euphoria, Rosenberg brought it all to the Ulster Hall on Sunday 2ndSeptember 2018.
Starting proceedings for the night was the beautiful and angelic voice of Lucy Rose. A singer-songwriter and musician from Warwickshire, England. Listening to her music I couldn’t help but notice and appreciate her musical inspirations, her almost Joni Mitchell like voice, and melodies like that of Harvest-era Neil Young. Not to take away from her own sound as she definitely set herself apart.
She walked out to a powerful applause to which she replied “For a second you thought Mike was coming on”. We laughed and then the audience fell dead silent as we looked at Rose standing on stage with nothing but her guitar and a few lights. She praised the audience for being so quiet, saying “Who knew Belfast was the one” The highlights of the set for me was “Strangest of Ways” and “I Can’t Change at All”. For the people who showed up early to hear Lucy Rose, they will surely be happy as this songstress made a strong impression on this Belfast crowd.
At 9PM Rosenberg came out to a deafening cheer from the 1,500-strong crowd. He started straight into “Fairtytales and Firesides” but not before a few giggles as this was a sign of things to come as the laughter didn’t end. Changing lyrics to suit the Belfast crowd went down very well as a roar was let out after he sang “sunlight on Northern Irish hillsides”. A sad song to start a gig, which he acknowledged by laughing “the most depressing start to a gig ever”. Next to be played was a fan favourite “Life’s for The Living” to which the audience sang along to. Rosenberg made a wonderful comment about the Ulster Hall saying “I’ve never played this place before, It’s absolutely beautiful.”
The next song to be played is off his new album Runaway,his tenth studio album which he joked about as many people know him just for “Let Her Go” but he said he was very proud of this one. “Hell or High Water” started which was one of my favourite moments of the night. After this was “Things That Stop You Dreaming” off All The Little Lights his most successful album, he played five songs off it throughout the night.
For the next song, he asked the audience to be quiet and told us the story of his grandparents who were Jewish refugees and ended up in America. He said this was possibly his most personal song he’d ever wrote, “To Be Free” a tear jerker about his grandparents to his parents now onto himself in the present day, true storytelling, you could tell the song meant a lot to him. Next up was a staple in his live performances, “The Sound of Silence” to which followed another hilarious anecdote about a fifteen-year-old fan who thought he had wrote it. Following that was a song about all the things he hates, “I hate”, with great participation from the audience and some political comments he moved into “Rolling Stone”.
“Suzanne” the next to be played was a song wrote a few weeks ago in his kitchen and then he smoothly transitioned into “Let Her Go”. A song he makes a lot of jokes about and loves to hate but he said he is very thankful for what that song done for him, from playing street corners to getting massive radio time, it lifted him to another level but as last night proved he still is as humble as ever. “Scare Away the Dark” finished the main set and then the encore brought two more songs “Survivors” another new one and finally “Holes”. Looking down on the crowd you could see how much the song meant to many people.
If last night proved anything to me it was how music can bring people together, sitting around myself was an elderly couple, two teenagers and four children among many other people. Rosenberg brought a sense of unity to the Ulster Hall on a warm September’s night that’ll not be forgotten anytime soon.