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Passenger presents lacklustre fare

How is it that Passenger has already made the jump to the arena stage? Been around a while, that bloke, busking across Europe and playing second fiddle to whomever which acoustic heartthrob would have him.

Were it not for Ed Sheeran, we might never have had the pleasure of welcoming Passenger (aka East Sussex noise-maker Michael Rosenberg) into our lives (Mike used to back up Ed on the road). So, yeah, he's done his time.

When he tells us he's released six albums, though, you can practically hear the fans scratching their heads. Didn't he, like, just have his first hit (syrupy worldwide chart-topper, Let Her Go) the year before last? And hasn't he yet to repeat its success?

Confident

What we will say about Mike is that he is, if nothing else, a confident young performer. Oh yes, no problems in that department. You need balls of steel to start a Saturday night gig in front of 6,000 punters with some chit-chat.

Tonight, Mike would really, really appreciate it if, when he asks us to stay quiet, we follow his orders (sounds like that farcical Vicar Street show last year, where fans did everything but listen to his tunes, left a scar). Most of his followers have grown up, thankfully, but is Mike's one-man-and-his-guitar display good enough to fill this enormous space? Nope.

"Most miserable start to a gig, ever!" he exclaims, after opening number, the admittedly depressing Rolling Stone, fizzles out. You said it, pal. Good grief, this lad's tunes go absolutely nowhere, circling various melodies and yet rarely, if ever, landing, the 30-year-old, helium-voiced troubadour presenting us with something that looks and, indeed, sounds a lot like what Simon Cowell and his cronies call folk music. Problems

If he were to hire a band, things might improve. But there are bigger problems here. For a start, you can't keep telling your audience how they should behave during different numbers, Mike - it's not cool. What else? Passenger murders Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence, invites on his support act for a Fleetwood Mac/Van Morrison mash-up and, oh yeah, tells us that if we don't sing along during the last number, it means we're racist. I … I don't even know what to do with that, Mike. Let's just leave it there, shall we? Rating: HHIII


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