Three things you may not have known about Passenger

Last Friday night made us Passengers of an emotional ride.

Azra Rauff

Published: 16 January 2017, 9:00 PM

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to have gone for Passenger’s one-night-only concert in Singapore.

The intimate 90-minute concert, held at The Star Theatre, drew a packed house of concertgoers who probably only knew one song, ‘Let Her Go’, or thought he was an Ed Sheeran impersonator. (He wasn’t.)

I was expecting to see a stage full of musicians and trumpets, recreating the impressive sounds from Passenger’s albums. Instead, skillful plucking, a soulful voice and lyrics that might have been a little depressing greeted us.

I also did not expect to discover these three things about British singer-songwriter Passenger.

1. Passenger isn’t really a band

At 8PM, a lone man, armed with his guitar, stood in the middle of the bare stage, waiting to play a few tracks.

Otherwise known as Passenger, Michael David Rosenberg, 32, promptly addressed the audience: “Hi, I’m Mike, and some of you may have been expecting a band of some sort, but it’s just me here tonight.”

Passenger originally started out as a band in 2003, named ‘Passenger.’ After the band broke up in 2009, Mike took the name ‘Passenger’ and started busking to make ends meet. Most of his older songs were inspired from his journeys around the world.

Passenger showed the audience you don’t always need banging drums and dancers for an amazing show.

Even though I was seated far away from the stage, I could still feel his stage presence after the first few notes of ‘Fairytales and Firesides’ as his voice rang throughout the theatre.

Performing without a band also allowed the folk artist to veer from a strict set list, asking the audience to request songs they wanted to hear.

While Mike didn’t receive much song requests that night – because we only knew one song that is ‘Let Her Go’ – he got us to sing the easy repetitive parts, by jokingly saying: “If you don’t sing you’re a racist!”

2. He’s brutally honest about everything

Unlike many other artists who only want to show their best side, performing songs about love and heartbreak in somewhat unrealistic lyrics, Passenger gave us hard truths, peppered with self-depreciating humour that the audience greatly appreciated.

While singing ‘I Hate’, Mike confessed about the things he loathed, which included “I hate pointless Facebook status updates”, and “People who use the bathroom for too long”.

During ‘Fairytales and Firesides’, Mike shared that it was about a sad society who didn’t know their direction in life.

The show was also heavily peppered with ‘F’-bombs, adding another dimension to his metaphor-filled songs.

I felt like I was a child who had stumbled on a screening of an R21 show and was now giggling because this is something my mother would have never allowed me to watch.

3. He will take you on an emotional ride

Mike is truly about giving you the feels. He didn’t shy away from sharing intimate stories behind his emotional songs.

My favourite moment of the night was when Mike told the heart-breaking story behind ‘Travelling Alone’. An Australian man had fulfilled the agreement with his wife to travel the world after she died and after Mike heard the story, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

He shared: “For awhile, I only had half a song. Then one day, as I was playing it, a lady told me she heard it and started crying. [She] told me the story of how a man had left her.”

I was in tears by the end of the song, which struck a chord in me. This was the first of the three times Passenger’s songs made me cry.

The other two times involved the song ’27’, where I cried thinking that my newfound 20s might end up loveless and hopeless, and at the end of the concert, where I was so overwhelmed by everything I had just heard.

While the concert started with a passive and quiet audience, it ended with chants for an encore. Photo Credits: Aloysious Lim for LAMC Productions

Passenger’s performance took me through the ups and downs of a musician’s life in true honesty, and I’m glad I was a passenger on that ride.

I only wish that it could have been longer.

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