Ben Howard at Glastonbury 2013 review

Ben Howard at Southside Festival 2013 by Alex Elms
Ben Howard at Southside Festival 2013 by Alex Elms


Damn you Howard. We had you down for delivering an insipid set of middle of the field singer-songwriter fodder today. Instead the sun blazes above you, the Pyramid field is full from hedgeline to hedgeline and to top it all off, you actually go and rise to the occasion.

Okay, some of us think that you pick away at your earnest front porch blues like you’re the resurrection of James Taylor (who isn’t dead by the way, so enough of that). But we know a lot of your material is Bon Iver lite and diet Fleet Foxes. Yes, we know you’re game, Howard!

Yet then you go and play a bristling version of ‘Only Love‘, which has sections of the crowd swaying and hugging each other as you sing “Darling I feel you, under my body / Only love, only love.” But we know you’re not Leonard Cohen, and this isn’t 8pm at Glastonbury 2008. And you do not have a ‘Hallelujah‘. We’ve got you cornered Howard.

But then you go and do it, don’t you. You and your little bag of whispering, soul-searching tricks. You lead the crowd in a call and repeat chant of “love love love“, which sends welcome shivers down spines in the heat.

We want to blame it on the Somerset cider or the sunshine that forms a warm comforting cloak around everyone, like a Ready Brek glow of content. But by the time you’ve immersed us in ‘Keep Your Head Up‘, with that sublime chorus (“Keep your head up, keep your heart“) getting under our skin, for all our objections, we may be ready to believe that these tingling laments of yours are special. And they do connect with people. It happened today. And we witnessed it.

All we’re saying, Howard, is that we’ve got your number. You won’t pull the wool over our eyes next time.


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