Last night Seattle gave a very warm welcome to Ben Howard along with Marcus Foster and Gill Landry. The Neptune was packed as the doors opened and you could feel the anxiousness of the crowd.
Gill Landry, also known by the stage name of Frank Lemon, was the first to perform. Donning a "Footloose"-esque cap he sang alone on stage just him and his guitar. His voice was deep and gorgeous. Landry was literally channelling Johnny Cash as he went from just his guitar to whipping out his harmonica. "You live in a very strange town," Landry laughed as he transitioned between songs, "It's nice to know it hasn't changed." Not only did he impress the crowd with his musical abilities, he gave everyone a good laugh. His last song was about a girl he met at FolkLife here in Seattle. He said, "She was from the Yak. Montana. She had a pet bear. I've never met anyone with a pet bear."
Next up was Marcus Foster. Born and raised in Southwest London his accent was prevalent and obviously made all the girls (and guys) swoon. His opening song brought goosebumps. Holy hell that guy can sing. The crowd was hooked. His growling folksy style is remnant to Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Jack Standen came on stage and accompanied Foster with keys. Their harmonies were unbelievable. Foster is about to release a new EP The Last House. Recorded in a barn in Sussex, England, it is his most diverse release to date. Judging by the activity around his merch table after the show, he was definitely a new (if not already) favorite to Seattle.
Obviously the reason we were all there was for the one, the only Ben Howard. He gave a gloomy, chilling, enchanting entrance. Fog was billowing on the stage while he finger picked his guitar. The thing with Howard is that he has got it all together. The way he looks you in the eye (it seems) when he is on stage; his lyrics; the combination of instruments and harmonies. Everything about his music is about 100 times better live. He is the perfect combination of Bob Dylan and Bon Iver. Howard is a creative musical genius but he swears he's just like the rest of us. He said that a couple of days ago he was miserable. The crowd started "awwing" and he cut them off saying "No, no. Life is a mixture of ups and downs. Its not always fun." But of course he said it in his thick lustrous accent.
This show was definitely one of the best live performances I have ever seen. I highly recommend that everyone and their mother not only start listening to these musicians but also see them live! It will change your life.
Check out a few favorites:
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/20824526" iframe="true" /][soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/23689410" iframe="true" /]