Passenger‘s Michael Rosenberg has a mouth on him – always has, probably always will.
Earlier encounters with the crooner saw him support Ed Sheeran at what would merely be the beginning of a much bigger journey for the pair.
He came out on the offensive – he tore X-Factor apart in front of thousands of bright-eyed teenagers, and ultimately came across as someone who felt like they’d been very hard done by.
Solo gigs followed, where he was lambasted by some critics for swearing so profusely, given the considerable amount of young attendees.
Four years later, and one absolutely inescapable tune later, at the Iveagh Gardens, he’s considerably less bitter, thankfully.
“We only have one really famous song [Let Her Go] so we’re just going to play it 12 times,” he jokes.
They don’t (thank God) – Somebody’s Love drops in places because the audience are reluctant to sing along, but it’s a good performance otherwise. He’s very chatty between tracks, as expected, giving the context of tracks and throwing out anecdotes (including one in which it sounds like he’s just recounting the plot of Up).
27, he explains, was inspired by a particular serious moment of self-doubt in his career following the unprecedented success of Let Her Go. The vocals are more restrained, but it’s a pleasant surprise to see that he is actually capable of writing happy, frivolous songs.
They come to an end with Whispers, mind – something which he dutifully acknowledges. The high point of the set is unquestionably his good humour.
It all wraps up nicely – there’s a cover of Damien Dempsey’s Factories which goes over well with the crowd, as does his rendition of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman (though he sounds questionable on some of the higher notes). Kids love him, seemingly, as several under 10s scream along merrily atop mam and dad’s shoulders.
Let Her Go warrants the biggest reaction, naturally, and it’s a predictably pleasant performance. Closing the encore with Holes leaves people singing long after the show ends – not so predictable, that.
The majority would go into a Passenger set with rock bottom expectations, given the ever-growing genre that is ‘White Male Guitar Music’. But let it be said that despite Let Her Go eclipsing their career, Passenger have maintained dignity, by continuing to tour and release music without any wild expectations. With that, they deliver a well-thought out, enjoyable set that mightn’t exactly break new ground in terms of artistry, but it certainly makes for nice listening.