UTG PHOTOS: Ben Howard in NYC (1/30/15)

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Under The Gun sent photographer Kellie Gannon to The Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City to photograph Ben Howard on January 30, 2015.

If you have ever wished for a life-changing concert experience or a show that you wish could just go on and on forever, look no further than Ben Howard. Howard is a fresh-faced, British crooner that can light your soul on fire and has stockpiled an immense amount of talent since his childhood. Ben makes love to his acoustic guitar in the most soothing way; it is essentially an extension of his body. His sound is most easily explained as a cross between Damien Rice and Ed Sheeran, and if you don’t know who either artist is, shame on you. Ben Howard playing live is so enjoyable to watch because I’m not sure if Ben realizes how talented he really is. While performing, it appears that he is in his natural habitat onstage, and his show is fluid and flawless, never relying on excessive chatter between songs. Ben’s down to Earth demeanor and music speaks for itself. The mood of the show flows naturally from song to song, with Ben looking across the crowd occasionally but never focusing on any single person or thing, as if he’s dreamily looking off into the distance of a different time and place. This show was, in a sense, like being in a dream with the perfect soundtrack. The whole night was an ethereal experience.

The show opened with an extended version of “Small Things,” a very stirring tune off his 2014 album release, I Forget Where We Were. He let the intro of the song build amidst thick fog and dim lights with a spotlight slowly rising upon where he sat center stage between two microphones. The song lasted over five minutes and slowly rolled into “Time Is Dancing.” Ben sat playing silhouetted throughout the show accompanied by deep lights that interchanged with bright blue and fuchsia tones. His beautifully moving songs, all from I Forget Where We Were, continued one after the other for over an hour, eventually playing the album’s title song. The show’s final encore focused on a very heavy and beautiful rendition of “She Treats Me Well.” If I had my way, the show would have gone on forever and included songs from his 2011 release, Every Kingdom. Ben’s sound has changed incredibly between the two albums and each showcase his versatility and acoustic soul with such perfection. They are each a platform for his different styles, and both just as essential in the Ben Howard discography.

Free advice to all: attend a Ben Howard show. It will never be a show where you will find yourself amongst stage divers and crowd surfers and you will most certainly never have to dodge a mosh pit. But I guarantee that Ben Howard will leave your soul fulfilled with the same intensity. You cannot find that kind of love, raw talent, and beautiful songwriting just anywhere.

Enjoy photos from Ben Howard at The Hammerstein Ballroom below!

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