Even Ben Howard’s most ardent fans would have to admit the start of this gig could not be described as fast-paced.
The opening three songs took 35 minutes, which led, initially, to a strangely subdued atmosphere for a concert which sold out in under an hour when tickets went on sale earlier in the year.
It seemed lethargic early on, boring almost - not what you’d expect from a 26-year-old who won two BRIT awards on the back of hugely successful debut album Every Kingdom and is one of the rising stars of today’s music scene.
Granted his style is more acoustic than rock but, still, I’d expected more energy and excitement and fun. Instead it seemed a little self-indulgent and there was way too much dead time between songs.
The gig did gather momentum as the night went on, with the highlight undoubtedly Keep Your Head Up. That was followed by a new track which had plenty of promise.
I’d say his mellow, intimate sound is more suited to smaller venues than the Empress - or laid-back Sunday afternoons at summer festivals.
That said, the lad sold out the Winter Gardens in double-quick time so he’s clearly doing something right. This reviewer might not have been particularly impressed, but there are no doubt 3,000 or so others who would disagree.