When it comes to owning a stage, Mike Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, has mastered the craft. Never have I seen a musician who is able to captivate an audience quite like him.
Performing to a 2000 strong crowd at the beautifully crafted Michael Fowler Centre, Passenger had the crowd in the palm of his hand as soon as he stepped on stage. With his guitar in hand and launching right into Rolling Stone from his most recent album Whispers, the crowd was eerily silent, a theme which continued throughout the night. Having never seen Passenger perform before, I was unsure exactly what to expect. It would be easy to look at the stage and think that it is far too big for just one man, but the British crooner had the audience transfixed right from the first note.
Despite performing “a few very depressing songs”, the warmth and energy radiating off Passenger made the entire thing feel almost like a pub gig. Chatting away and telling jokes between each song, the folk/pop singer managed to make a room full of strangers almost feel like friends.
A highlight of the night came with what is potentially one of Passenger’s most emotional songs, Riding To New York. Starting off a story by talking about his addiction to cigarettes, Rosenberg spoke in detail about an evening in which he met a man who was dying of lung cancer and so was riding a motorbike from the west coast of America to the east to spend his last moments with his children and grandchildren. The entire audience sat in complete silence as the singer dedicated the heart-wrenching ballad to that very man who had helped him to quit smoking. This dead silence was mimicked again as Passenger performed a new song, a love song so new that it had yet to be named. The crowd was mesmerized by every word.
In contrast, crowd favourite I Hate had the singer ask the audience to “turn into an obnoxious, drunk crowd” as they laughed, cheered and sung along to the explicit song. Nothing could quite compare though, to Let Her Go, the song that threw the then busker into the spotlight in 2013. As the audience erupted into a massive sing-a-long, the echos through the venue threatened to drown out the singer on stage.
Mike Rosenberg is one of a kind. He has the ability to connect with every single audience member and make a room of thousands feel like a room of five. There is something breathtaking pure about his performance; simple yet highly effective. His show is one I could personally watch over and over again and fall in love with a little bit more each time.