Seeing Ben Howard two weeks ago was such a surreal and amazing experience. Live music can give you the most electrifying feeling: whether it be the adrenaline, the goosebumps from the shared crowd experience, or the ability to completely lose yourself in the music.
I’m a huge fan of the atmosphere at big festivals as it’s thrilling to be just one person in a crowd of thousands all singing the same lyrics and being held in one moment together. Nevertheless, nothing beats a nice intimate venue where you can feel every single word and vibration.
The UEA LCR is a venue where I have had some of the best times of my life – stumbling around drunk dancing on a club night, getting a coffee during the day with friends, or watching live performances. I’ve grown to love the cheesy school disco vibes and my shoes getting stuck to the ambiguous murk on the floor. I’d definitely recommend giving it a visit if you’re from around or in Norwich as it is one of my favourite places and you’ll definitely have an amazing time.
Tension before Ben took to the floor was high. We arrived at 7pm and waited over 2 hours before he started his set (which is fine we just wanted a nice spot at the front). Cellos, double basses, drums, guitars and synthesisers were all crammed onto the small stage, which further added to the sense of excitement.
The quality of the music of the concert was amazing – and I was blown away by the renditions of ‘I Forget Where We Were’ and ‘Small Things’ especially. If you like Ben’s album I Forget Where We Were then I’d definitely recommend booking tickets for his tour. However, if you’re more into Every Kingdom and his more noticeable hits then you probably would have found his set a bit lacking. The only older material he played were ‘Black Flies’ and ‘The Fear’. Even though I really enjoyed every song he played, I would have loved to have heard ‘Keep Your Head Up’ as I have so many fond memories attached to that song. When various crowd members were suggesting he played it, Ben said that his popular songs had gotten ‘boring’, which was a bit disappointing. (Ben himself seemed a bit off and perhaps tired/intoxicated, rather than giving off the impression that he wanted to be playing in Norwich).
Nevertheless, I have no complaints about the actual musical element of the gig. Ben’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and I did get goosebumps at several moments during the show. Special mention has to go to the lady who flitted between the synth, cello and drums (and even got the crowd going with some clapping and dancing). The crowd itself wasn’t the most cooperative, as we were standing at the front I expected those around us to be getting more involved but many were just on their phones and not engaging.
I think this is the reason seeing Ben Howard, one of my all time favourite artists, was not up there with the best live acts I’ve seen. Despite his magical musical abilities, at no point was I completely blown away by the entire experience. I’m usually one to have to fight back tears during gigs – as nothing gets to me like live performance – but I didn’t feel as much of an emotional connection this time.
Overall, it was a fun night and I enjoyed some amazing music, so I’d definitely recommend seeing Ben Howard if you enjoyed his last album. Despite this, I can’t say it was one of the best gig experiences I’ve been involved in.
Who is the best live act you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking to listen to new stuff and see more live performances!