Passenger – Brighton Dome – 9th September 2018

Passenger 2018 - Photo by Chloe Hashemi
Photo by Chloe Hashemi

If you ever thought Passenger was just the name behind the super hit ‘Let Her Go’, you are quite mistaken. Try telling that to almost 2,000 dedicated fans at the Brighton Dome on Sunday night. After a staggering ten studio albums, Passenger has built an impressive back catalogue of finely constructed, emotive songs, all of which are adored by his fans.

It was quite incredible to witness what one man can do with just his voice and acoustic guitar, and how that can resonate with so many people. It was a really special night as Michael Rosenberg brought his Runaway tour to his hometown of Brighton.

Lucy Rose opened the show, and she really set the tone of the night. With her stunning lyrics and vocals, Lucy managed to capture the attention of the already packed out venue, in a way a lesser-known support act rarely can. At one point, you could have literally heard a pin drop. Lucy Rose confessed to the crowd that they were the, “First audience who have listened to [her] this tour”, which she seemed wholeheartedly grateful for. She admitted she doesn’t often get a chance to play rooms as big as the Dome’s concert hall. She finished up with a relatable piece of insight about Passenger himself, who she dubbed as “something else”.

By the time Passenger was due to grace the stage, the crowd was raring to go – it felt quite electric. Both fans and Passenger seemed overjoyed to be back in each other’s presence, a homecoming show of this size for the artist was a longtime coming. There was a genuine appreciation between fans and him, Michael kept calling them and Brighton ‘beautiful’ as they sang-along to every song, and there was more than one instance of a member of the crowd yelling that Passenger is a ‘beautiful soul’.

The set was a nice balance between oldies and new tracks from his new album Runaway, which dropped only a few weeks ago, and has already claimed a Top 10 spot in the UK album chart. Passenger told stories about how songs came to be, and that only made the gap between him and his audience even smaller. It felt that the crowd was hanging on to his every word and every chord. Before he performed a particularly personal song off his new album ‘To Be Free’, Passenger told the story of his Jewish refugee grandparents who fled Europe and had a chicken farm in New Jersey. He linked this treatment of refugees back in the second world war to the current political climate, which brought the liberal Brighton crowd even more on his side.

A high-point of the set was when Passenger brought the crowd to their feet for his cheeky song ‘I Hate’. In this song, he listed all the thing which “piss him off”, the list including everything from “racist blokes” to “X-Factor” and “fussy eaters”. This one seemed to be a particular crowd favourite, everyone yelling the lyrics with him. This was a quintessentially British moment – in the best of ways, as everyone was united in their love of complaining.

Of course there needed to be reference to the song that put Passenger on the map worldwide, ‘Let Her Go’. He admitted that although he likes to moan to himself sometimes that this song is all he is known for in some parts of the world, he admitted that he is truly humbled to have written a song that means so much to so many people. He then expressed his disbelief that the song recently hit two billion streams on YouTube. The crowd loved every piece of honesty shared, and by the end of the set Passenger really had the whole room in the palm of his hand, coming back for an encore of three more songs.

At the end of the night he thanked Brighton for giving him such an incredible hometown welcome, and allowing him to, “Sing to a room who know all his songs, not just one”.

The atmosphere ended on an electric note just as it started out. It was a truly incredible and honest show all round.

Chloe Hashemi