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Live Review: Ben Howard (Boardmasters 2013)



For me, and many others, Ben Howard was the highlight of the weekend. In all honesty, Ben Howard was one of the reasons that I made sure I was at Boardmasters this year.

Late last year, the Totnes/London singer-songwriter graced us with the release of The Burgh Island EP  named after the scenic spot in South Devon and served as a basis for his set. Since then, Howard has been test-driving his new material for the upcoming album which can be expected early 2014, as well as playing some of his biggest hits from Every Kingdom. Recently, Ben Howard told  Music Feeds Studio that “[I've got songs] where I’m thrashing out the electric guitar, ones were I’m chilling out on the electric guitar and ones where I’m finger picking on an acoustic. It’s going to be interesting mashing them all together and seeing what the album sounds like.

Ben Howard at Boardmasters 2013


Some of the songs on The Burgh Island EP hint to the more prevalent use of the electric guitar. When Ben played Boardmasters we were lucky enough to hear Esmerelda, Oats in the Water, and Burgh Island, though Monica Heldal was absent, so it seems that he is gently introducing the idea of the electric guitar to the fans, cautious not to lose any of his fan-base. 

However, Every Kingdom still played a heavy part in constructing set, playing songs such as Black Flies, Only Love, The Wolves, Old Pine, Keep Your Head Up, and The Fear. These are songs that Ben has well-rehearsed and it really comes out in the live performances. The softly spoken artist played every song to the best ability, and he’s one of those great musicians that spares nothing and you can really witness him putting his heart and soul into the songs. Ben also has the rare quality of performing live and sounding the same as he does on the tape.

With playing like this, it’s no wonder why he pulled a full crowds of people and had the hearts and minds of everyone at Boardmasters. He managed to transcend the musical differences, attracting attention from those more inclined to the dance and rave tents and united everyone into a heart-felt sway. It was really an atmosphere for lovers and good friends and any artist that can create that kind of atmosphere at one of their shows definitely earns my respect. 

Although there are no official videos from Boardmasters, other than the highlights reel which you can find on Boardmasters’ Facebook page, or their official website. One fan was kind enough to record Ben Howard performing The Fear. It is not the best quality of videos but the sound comes through clear and it’s the best medium to see the quality behind his playing and the size of the crowd he drew.

So the question is, after all these nice things that I’ve written, what was wrong with the concert? In truth, not a great deal. Apart from the dreary weather (Which was barely noticeable in the excitement) all I can say is that, as a fan, I wish he could have played for longer as he finished around ten – early for a headline act. Other than that, Ben was especially quiet, more quiet than normal, and it would have been nice for him to have interacted with the crowd a little more. All in all, I thoroughly recommend that you go and see Ben Howard live as soon as you can.

(All embedded photographs courtesy of Boardmasters©)




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