No fancy light show, no band, no gimmicks. Just a guitar, an amp and a mic. That’s all Mike Rosenberg – under the stage name Passenger – needed to impress Birmingham’s O2 Academy.
In a set of old, current and brand new, Mike began the gig with ‘Table For One’ before telling the 3,000-strong crowd what kind of night they could expect – “it’s just going to be me and a guitar” – which was met with rapturous applause.
Alongside humorous anecdotes of his time touring, the endearing singer-songwriter involved the crowd in a sing-along early on, with ‘Life’s For The Living’ from latest album All The Little Lights.
As a chatty artist, Mike engaged his fans all night with tales of his success. Before “all that s**t kicked off” with 2013 hit ‘Let Her Go’, we were told he spent days busking on streets and nights singing in pubs. But it’s clear why; after all this hard work, it seems he’s finally made it. Requesting for silence, he played a beautiful unplugged version of ‘Blind Love,’ at one point moving away from the mic entirely. The room was mesmerised, captivated by the incredible talent in front of them.
With everyone in the palm of his hand, Mike powered through ‘The Wrong Direction,’ blending into a cover of ‘What Is Love.’
An emotive story came with the next song, about a man Mike met when he was going to buy a packet of cigarettes, who was dying of lung cancer, travelling across the States to visit family. It is safe to say that Mike didn’t buy the cigarettes in the end, and also safe to say that many were left with lumps in their throats by the time he had finished the new track.
‘I Hate’ changed everyone’s emotions, sparking a sing-along en masse, before ‘Patient Love’ and a cover of ‘Get Lucky’, that exercised everyone’s vocal chords a little bit more.
A look of disbelief passed across Mike’s face as he began ‘Let Her Go’ – the song of the summer that made Passenger a household name.
Upon finishing he thanked everyone, which seemed to be the theme of the night. It was humbling to see someone so overwhelmed by the support he was receiving. “Never in my wildest dreams “ Mik confessed, “did I think the song [Let Her Go] would take me around the world and put me in rooms like this one.”
‘27’ was next, before bringing Stu Larsen onto the stage – support act, tour buddy and best friend – for ‘Heart’s On Fire.’
At Mike’s request, everyone put phones and cameras away for ‘Scare Away The Dark,’ a new song about technology taking over, with humorous references to both Twitter and viral tune ‘Gangnam Style’!
After leaving the stage to a deafening reception, he returned for an encore. First ‘Whispers’ had people holding lighters aloft, before ‘Holes’ got everyone singing once more before Mike concluded his set.
Charming and undeniably talented, Passenger deserves all the success that he’s got so far – and then some!
4 stars ★★★★✰
If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?