Barclaycard Mercury Prize Sessions, Hospital Club
added: 10 May 2012
// gig date: 9 May 2012
reviewer: Becky Talbot
Post Bank Holiday blues were blown away by the Barclaycard Mercury Prize session with Ben Howard and Howler.
Warming up the crowd downstairs in the studio at Covent Garden’s unique hub The Hospital Club was Howler, a five piece band from Minneapolis, young-looking enough to make most people over twenty five reach for the nearest walking stick. Complete with all the Juno-esque, awkward, Midwest indie stylings we’ve come to love and expect, they played with an energy that confirmed their toddler looks. Howler play good old-fashioned rock tunes with a modern distortion twist and insightful lyrics reminiscent of vintage Razorlight mixed with a dab of The Strokes.
While the tech crew dismantled and rebuilt the stage for Ben Howard, there was time for a little celebrity spotting with the likes of T4’s current favourite Will Best, Radio 1’s Greg James, Sunday Girl Jade Williams and model Zara Martin gracing The Hospital Club. Scanning the room, it was obvious we were caught in the middle of a competition for the most colourful jeans award.
Ben Howard opened with Black Flies from the Every Kingdom album, a beautifully heart wrenching opener, captivating the audience from the outset with atmospheric tones and intricate guitar work. Characteristic of his on-stage demeanor, Ben was quiet and humble, giving over much of the stage to his backing musicians which made for a very polished performance. Moving seamlessly from track to track and instrument to instrument, Ben Howard, India Bourne and the band took the audience on a musical journey. After the dramatic and atmospheric openers, the audience were transported to a summer’s day, “a summer with no rain”, lying in long grass, whiling away the hours to upbeat guitar picking and soothing vocals. Finishing off the evening, Ben brought on the electric guitar, tried out a new track and played out as if to a packed stadium – the audience captivated, almost speechless, throughout!
No matter the Scott Pilgrim style superhero antics of Howler or the sublime, intricate guitar work and soothing vocals of Ben Howard, vocalist and cellist, India Bourne stole the show. I know lads have something called Bromance but for India I definitely have Chicmance.
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