Review: Ben Howard, Newcastle 02 Academy

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Ben Howard’s highly-anticipated sell-out show at the Newcastle 02 Academy showcased him in all his glory.

His effortless vocals and stunning skills on both acoustic and electric guitar saw him string out songs to the max, resulting in adrenaline-fuelled climaxes.

His incredible talent shone as he opened with Burgh Island and Under The Same Sun – tapping and plucking a guitar that was laid flat on his lap, while singing to an accompanying band and soaring cello played by India Bourne.

The lively crowd were behind the Devon singer from the off and Diamonds, Old Pine and Only Love, from his debut album, Every Kingdom, provided some great sing-a-long moments.

However, at times a minority among the crowd spoilt things, as they didn’t know when to tone it down and listen.

As Ben indulged in mellow songs that he dubbed “depressing” he became irritated by the talkative crowd.

During a delicate performance of Oats in the Water, he stopped mid-song, removed his ear piece and said: “You’re the nosiest people ever. People haven’t talked like this since I did open mic.”

Genuine fans who hung on to his every word showed support for him by trying to hush others and he continued with Esmerelda. It was embarrassing that such an amazing artist was shown such a lack of respect.

The chatting didn’t subside and he went on to say: “Half of you talked through Willy Mason as well and that really annoyed me, it’s a shame people are chatting.”

American artist Willy Mason – who Ben describes as “one of the best songwriters I know” –provided support for the show.

Despite being frustrated, the star continued and ended the set with a top-notch performance of The Wolves, before returning with an uplifting encore.

Thankfully him and his band seemed to let go and have fun with two great performances of Keep Your Head Up and The Fear.

The rowdy crowd were reluctant to see him leave and stomped until he returned with his final song, Black Flies.

Respect to him for seeing it through to the end and giving it his all. He is one truly talented guy who deserved more from the crowd.

One fan in particular, Ciara Youll, 35, from Lambton, in Washington said: “The show was amazing but I was embarrassed that Ben Howard had to say what he did.

“Some girls I met here have travelled five hours from Shropshire, they were so disappointed about all the talking.”

Complaints aside, this show was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

Marie Westmoreland