Live Review: Ben Howard – Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

Two weekends ago, Ben Howard brought his experimental, electric style to Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC for a 2 night run.

I must admit as a big fan of this artist that I am normally disappointed in the live performance because 98 percent of his set list is the current album he’s touring on. Is it so much to ask for an Only Love or an Everything? Although Ben’s music has morphed into a darker, more unique sound he still fails to disappoint with brilliant vocals and outstanding guitar skills. American indie-rock duo Wye Oak, comprised of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner, opened the night with an alternative pop grooving set.

Ben’s first song of the night was Towing The Line, from the new album Noonday Dream. This song features a mysterious introduction with eccentric vocal effects. Next he played A Boat To An Island On The Wall – another song from the new album. The highlight of this track is the ending jam, where the energy and pace of the song begin to build. Most of the song paints a calm, serene vibe but then the ending strikes and your body and mind have an instant reaction. He continued to play the new album with What The Moon Does.

The night rocked on with dark chord progressions and electrifying effects. All Down The Mines (Interlude) and Someone In The Doorway followed, before Ben treated the audience with a memorable performance of Agatha’s Song. He continued to surprise by going right into an energetic version of Small Things – track one on his 2014 album I Forget Where We Were.

To continue with the same era of music, Ben played Evergreen, track seven from the 2014 album. To close out the night, Ben performed a stellar version of Nica Libres At Dusk from this year’s release, Noonday Dream. Although the new album went further into Ben’s electric and experimental style, the English singer/songwriter never fails to put on an impressive performance.

Scott J. Herman