Passenger, aka Mike Rosenberg, finally made it to Auckland’s Powerstation and the wait was worth it. Here’s 13th Floor’s Carin Newbould with her report:
It says a lot when an artist can captivate a crowd from the get-go with just a guitar and some great lighting. Passenger managed it beautifully at The Powerstation.
The stage was set by Hollow Coves, a guitar based folk duo from Brisbane who opened with admirable ease. Support acts are supposed to complement the main artist, but in this instance they were just a little too similar: “Coastline” was beautifully played and well received, probably because lyrically and musically it could well have been a Passenger song. They warmed up the laid-back audience nicely though, leading a singalong to a cover of James Bay’s “Hold Back The River” (obviously keen on water-themed material) before ceding to the solo star of the night.
Genuinely likeable, funny and down to earth, Mike Rosenberg (known to the world as Passenger) was sincere in his appreciation when addressing a large, well humoured crowd. He gave a long talk about the hiatus in performing and the importance of connection through live music. It’s a fair point – while Mike’s music is beautifully crafted and perfect for radio – who hasn’t heard “Let Her Go” several hundred times since it was released a decade ago? – it’s the live performances which make Passenger so engaging.
Gorgeous, accomplished guitar work accompanies interesting, heartfelt and often poignant lyrics. The crowd at The Powerstation swayed, sang along and smiled in recognition of familiar folksy tunes. We were encouraged to sing along but the audience were completely silenced by the powerful acapella section of “Table For One”.
Passenger spoke of his love for New Zealand prior to performing “Queenstown” and embarking on the frenetic energy of “Sandstorm”. Self-deprecating humour prefaced “I Hate”, about “the stuff that pisses me off” in which, as requested, the crowd enthusiastically joined in with the “lai lai lai lai lai” refrain and laughed in agreement with several of the items mentioned – who doesn’t hate festival toilets? Whilst there was an extensive list of Passenger’s hates, he apparently “fucking loves you guys” in the audience.
The wish list of international travel destinations – including New Zealand – featured in “Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea” was well received, as was the philosophical recap of his life journey in “Blink of an Eye”. After a lengthy anecdote about Bryan Adams and a “face off” at a Canadian festival, Passenger played a simple cover version of “Heaven” (with virtually the whole audience holding up torch-lit mobiles, the modern-day equivalent of lighters) then segued into “Let Her Go” for a predictable singalong of his “one and only hit”.
The set “closed” with the exuberance of “Scare Away The Dark”, a modern protest song, which again got the loyal and enthusiastic crowd singing along. This continued after the gig “finished” – the usual clapping, stamping and chanting requesting further songs replaced by melodic, good natured and unified chorus. Passenger returned to the stage for three more songs (including the lovely new song “Whispers”), finishing up with fan favourite “Holes”.
All in all, a great feel-good night out in Auckland. Passenger’s a nice bloke and a class act.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk:
- Life’s for the Living
- Table for One
- I Hate
- Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea
- Blink of an Eye
- The Way That I Love You
- Let Her Go
- Scare Away The Dark
- Things That Stop You Dreaming