Having only a lunch hour to make it to the set which was situated outside the Tate Modern, I speedily made my way there and could see a pretty huge crowd surrounding Mike Rosenberg, (aka, Passenger), his two guitars, two speakers, two photographers and one mardy looking security man. I thought I'd perhaps struggle to get close enough to enjoy the set but this wasn't the case as the 300 strong crowd (made up of fans and tourists) were all in a relaxed mood and I was able to nudge my way close enough to get a great glimpse of this huge talent that is taking the world by storm right now.
I, like everyone else there, was transfixed by the very powerful and emotive vocals reverberating around the South bank as Passenger mixed up his set with some of his popular and well known songs along with some new tacks from his up and coming LP 'Whispers'. In between each song Passenger would enlighten the audience with stories from his travels and anecdotes and experiences which ultimately led to the songs been written in the first place. Songs laced with either humour or sadness, or sometimes both, but always tinged with great honesty and delivered with a sterling concentration throughout.
In Passenger we have someone who clearly retains the core values of what music means to both artists and audience alike
The hour long set was wrapped up with another of Passenger's signature songs, this time the upbeat, and energetic 'Holes'. Passenger has the ability to somehow always ensure each gig is unique and laced with personal affection and attention and today was no different especially when just before the chorus of 'Holes' Rosenberg's guitar strings snapped, to which the rest if the song was played out acapella...which was an absolute delight to the crowd.
As Passenger departed his set and battled through the Southbank crowds, I managed to catch him for a quick chat and a shake of the hand (two, actually, one to say hello and thanks for the impromptu gig, and the other to say goodbye and good luck) - and it turns out he is just as polite in person as he is on stage, offering me humble words of thanks for the kind words and coming out to support him. In Passenger we have someone who clearly retains the core values of what music means to both artists and audience alike. He reinforced this by proclaiming that "I think music should be free and should be for everyone to enjoy, not just if you can afford the ticket". Whilst the potential shelf-life of an artist (now) in the public eye being at risk of being somewhat restricted, Mike Rosenberg knows that he can, and will always stay true to his musical roots by busking on the very streets that propelled him to his richly deserved success. And long may it continue.
Wispers is out in June 2014. Subscribe to Passenger's mailing list here