FORMER busker Michael Rosenburg, otherwise known as Passenger, returned to what he described as one of his favourite cities, Manchester, to play the O2 Apollo with his ‘Young as the morning, old as the sea‘ tour.
At 8pm sharp, support act Gregory Alan Isakov gracefully took to the stage in his cowboy hat, beginning his set with a soothing song which complimented his deep, country/folk styled voice.
He sung in silence as the crowd settled to listen as he performed under a solo pink spotlight.
It’s not often the headliner thanks his support act, Passenger however jokingly admitted he felt threatened by him.
Isakov’s first song ‘She Always Takes It Black’, drew the undivided attention of the sold-out Apollo with his poetic lyrics.
Had an AMAZING time at the Passenger gig last night at the Manchester Apollo 🙂
— Jack Ford (@jackfords) December 1, 2016
Isakov explained that being from Colarado, it was an honour to tour with Passenger as he’s able to visit different cities in the UK.
He also told the crowd that it was his first time performing without his band.
Ironically though, at one point during his set, Isakov was quite literally playing four instruments at once.
The crowd cheered as he strummed his guitar before playing his harmonica, singing and using his foot to make a deep bass sound all at once which took the audience by surprise.
He finished his set with his song ‘Liars‘ and was proud to announce that it was now available on Spotify which the crowd reacted well to.
Passenger, who was performing with a band for the first time, made his entrance at 9pm and explained it was all very new to him.
Based on his previous albums and current one, Passenger’s known for his slow and, as he described, ‘miserable’ songs.
This however wasn’t reflected in his performance as he had the crowd in stitches; from making jokes about his one hit wonder ‘Let Her Go’ by comparing it to the famous Disney song ‘Let It Go’, to admitting that his newest album was ‘terrible’.
He continued to entertain the crowd throughout the evening and said: “You’re probably all wondering… this is Passenger, why have the first five songs been so upbeat? I’ve seen he’s in town and came along to drown my sorrows to his sad songs? Don’t worry folks, the misery will begin soon.”
He even changed the lyrics of his song which refers to things he hates nowadays to have a dig at someone in the audience who was consistently wolf whistling which went down well as the crowd cheered to agree that it was wholly irritating, although funny at first.
— Calum (@Cal_f_18) November 30, 2016
Passenger performed a variety of songs from his old albums and although he was aware not everyone would know the words, he saw no excuse for the crowd not to get involved and was very encouraging in terms of getting them to sing-a-long, even if it meant making the words up.
What caught my attention about Passenger most, which I feel differentiates him from other artists, is how he’d dedicate each song to anyone who could relate to the song, whether it be heartbreak, things they hate about this generation or losing a loved one.
Before performing his song ‘Travelling On’ he asked the crowd for complete silence so he could explain the context of the song, which he did for a solid 10 minutes, but drew the crowd in with his storytelling and made them realise how well crafted his songs are based on real life experiences.
There was a lot of emotion in the room during the performance of that song as there was complete respectful silence.
The highlight of the night was when Passenger left the stage chanting a tune, pretending it was the end of the show.
The audience raised the roof as they sang it back to him and didn’t stop singing for at least three minutes before he returned to the stage, astonished by the crowd’s efforts.
Passenger was a regular singer in the basement of a pub in the Northern Quarter which lead to his speech about his love for Manchester.
He ended his set to another two songs before a humbling thank you to every person who came out to see him.
He left the stage leaving such a positive energy in the room, although he’s known for his sad songs which is what made his set so utterly distinct.