By Daniela Rivera Deneke
Photography by Noor Nasser
Indie folk rock artist, Passenger, sold out at the Boston House of Blues Friday night after opening its doors for ecstatic fans. The House of Blues proved to be the perfect place to hold the group and their fans with its eclectic and spacey design. It is big enough to hold an excited crowd, but small enough to provide a cozy ambience that fits Passenger’s folk style perfectly.
The opening act was Australian indie folk-rock band The Paper Kites, who nicely complimented Passenger’s performance. They sang four songs, including top singles “Bloom” and “I’m Lying To You Cause I’m Lost.”
Passenger finally appeared onstage after the opening act, beginning his performance with one of his newer songs, “Somebody’s Love.”
Throughout the concert, Passenger, whose real name is Michael Rosenberg, maintained a lively and spirited energy while walking up and down the stage and twirling around with his guitar.
It was clear that he wanted the audience to know how thankful and happy he was to be performing; he created a fun vibe by cracking jokes throughout his set.
The first song most of the audience sang with Passenger was “Life’s for the Living,” an early single off of his All the Little Lights album. This song, which came out before his hit “Let Her Go,” launched him to worldwide fame.
For every song that held meaning to him, Passenger told the story of its origin and why he chose to write it: the first being “27.” He told the audience of his life before he got famous, he was a busker traveling through Europe just trying to make a living, playing on street corners and in pubs. He wrote “27” when he was wondering why he was working so hard on his music to barely scrape by. Writing the song helped motivate him to keep doing what he loved.
Passenger also sang songs from his new album Young as the Morning Old as the Sea, explaining one titled “Everything.” According to him, this track is about “what makes you truly happy, not surface happy, not fame, money and success.” He concluded that people are what make you happy, that having someone to care for is everything and society tries to convince us otherwise.
His next song was called “Travelling Alone” and is based on the story of an old man he met in Copenhagen when he was busking.
Passenger was playing in a street corner while this old man sat in front of him and closed his eyes. When Passenger finished playing, the man came up to him and told him that he was from Australia and had never left the country; he made plans with his wife that when his kids grew up they would travel the world together.
When his kids did grow up and it was time to book their flights; however, his wife passed away.
Throughout the concert, Passenger did two covers that fit nicely with his gruff and soothing folk voice: “Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, which the crowd gladly sang with him.
Before the encore, Passenger sang popular singles “I Hate” and “Let Her Go,” causing the crowd to go wild.
A unique feature of Passenger’s tour is the incorporation of a full band. When Michael’s career launched, he played alone with his guitar. Passenger played both with a full band and by himself as homage to his humble beginning.
He thanked Boston for having him right before his encore, and then launched into an old favorite, “Holes,” and a newer song, “Home,” closing out a night of storytelling and community.