Michael David Rosenberg, or as he is more frequently known – Passenger, is an indie-acoustic singer/songwriter hailing from the United Kingdom, who showed an Adelaide crowd last night the secrets of his longevity.
Now boasting a hugely successful musical career, Passenger is a multi-talent who rose up from busking origins to create ten full length albums. Joking early in the show that Let Her Go was his only hit, seems to trivialise the casual passion and incredible wordsmanship that left not only the audience speechless, but has distinguished Rosenberg as a true artist.
From his previous shows, his intimate style of concert wasn’t out of place within The Gov’s main room, and it was clear from the t-shirts being sported that the crowd was an amalgamation of long-term fans, and those looking to connect with his songs’ ties such as love, loss and a hatred of Facebook status’.
As the support act with the task of warming up the stage was the quirky duo, Winterbourne who sported an eclectic and refreshing mix of banter and ballads (and were two shoes short on stage). James and Jordan’s songs featured foot-stomping, finger-clicking and haunting acapella vocals that brought silence and a sense of reverence to the growing spectators.
A pause, a dark stage, and then a roar as the main event, Passenger, walked into the spotlight, centre stage. A guitar in one hand, a glass of “Scottish apple juice” in the other, whose dark colour and lone ice cube suggested it wasn’t a kid-friendly alternative, standing proudly in front of the audience before letting his constrained emotion loose in Fairy Tales and Firesides.
Casually mixing between his albums, he introduced the emotive track David by explaining the story of the man behind the title. Of someone who was left behind in alcoholism while the rest of the world moved on, telling his tale to any who would listen. A familiarity between Passenger’s songs is that he acts more of bard than rock star. He shares glimpses of memories and the lives he’s met during sliding door moments; a story teller wielding the heady mixture of a husky voice and Epiphone Les Paul.
Moving easily into Life’s For The Living, Passenger’s timeless message of recognising the little moments in life before they’re gone, poured into the audience as they chorused back “life’s for the living/so live it/ or you’re better off dead”. Hell or High Water and To Be Free touched on the differences between loves, those that can leave you puzzled and alone when they end, and those that you would cross oceans to protect. Introducing the latter with tears in his eyes, it’s this difference that makes a Passenger concert so special. The sense of inclusion, of leaving a little bit closer to one another that comes from hearing about the intimate secrets behind the songs’ formations.
Beautifully covering Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence, retaining the sense of sombre stillness, before breaking up the mood completely with the fast paced I hate, and inevitably Survivors and then Let Her Go, the cadence of Passenger’s vast repertoire became crystal clear.
Brought back to the stage by an encore of the bridge in Scare Away The Dark, Passenger left his show on a high, covering Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark before finally his own, Holes, showing the unity in his music with the line, “we’ve got holes in our hearts/…yeah we’ve got holes, but we carry on”.
Live Review by Robyn Clifford