Wednesday 27 June 2012

Ben Montague // Live Review, Manchester Academy 3

You may remember we interviewed Ben Montague earlier this week mid-way through his headline tour. After already acquiring a growing fan base, supporting The Wanted and an album “Tales of Flying and Falling” on the way, we marked the shows as ones to watch out for.
Here’s what happened when Est.1987 headed down to Manchester Academy 3.

Ben Montague on stage
Back in 2010, before Ben Montague even had a record deal, his debut single “Haunted” was scooped up by Radio 2 and became a major hit. Fast forward a couple of years and Ben has a record deal, an album on the way and has just come off tour with The Wanted. Speaking to him before the tour Ben revealed how he “wasn’t really sure how [the audience would] take it because when they saw me doing those gigs they were in arenas and I was playing with a full band. On this tour I wanted people to see me doing acoustic stuff as well”. Ben had been overwhelmed with the response to his more stripped back stage show so far on the tour and would Manchester prove any different? The staging is simple; Ben accompanied by a guitarist and bassist take to the stage and modestly open with “False Horizon”. The catchy acoustic-rock refrains characterise why his success is only set to continue. Continuing the set with “Another Hard Fall” Ben is effortless in his approach; just as the song rises, Ben pulls it back and delivers an impressive guitar instrumental.  The crowd reciprocate with cheers. The front row is lined with adoring girls but Ben’s appeal stretches further than just the teenage girl market and the rest of Manchester Academy 3 is a plethora of generations, each equally enjoying the show.

“Do you want to hear something you might know?” asks Ben as he switches instruments. Now taking to the piano Ben plays “Haunted”, the song that first made people pay attention to him. The vocals echo through the venue making the performance effortless and captivating. As the crowd sing every word back at Ben he announces “think I might well up in a minute”. Thanking fans for coming down Ben is appreciative throughout his set, overwhelmed by the support. The more melancholy refrains of “Haunted” are counteracted with the grittier “Pull The Trigger”. The future single shows off Ben’s rawer vocals and the song is driven with a real pace to it. “Rainy Day”, even though much more stripped back, Ben performs on his own; his powerful vocals breeze through the song’s catchy chorus and stir the crowd.

Ben on stage in Manchester
Debuting songs from his album, Ben proves how his range of story-driven acoustic rock has the ability to build a relationship with his audience, not only allowing everyone present to feel part of a collective but each song resonating out to the individual. He describes the tour experience as like playing in a large bedroom. The setting is intimate and allows Ben to disclose the stories behind the tracks on the album. “Liberty Road” was written after he bumped into a former girlfriend outside Liberty’s in London and is written from the point of view of the road watching the encounter. 

Powerful and uplifting, the guitar based melody leaves waves of excitement throughout the crowd. In addition to his hits and forthcoming album tracks, Ben also throws in a cover of Lady Gaga’s infamous “Poker Face”. His more stripped back, slower version of the hit song shows off his impressive vocal range, even if he did have to get the crowd’s help with the odd lyric.      

After leaving the stage Ben is drawn back to raucous chants of one more song. “Hummingbird”, Ben explains, was written about the bird talked about in the film “Benjamin Button”. He goes on to say how the hummingbird’s wings form a figure of 8 when slowed down, which is the sign for eternal love. The love song is enchanting and proves that Ben can hold down not only up-tempo guitar based numbers but also ballads. So, all seems to bode well for his album, “Tales of Flying and Falling”; Ben Montague is one to watch out for. 

To read our full interview with Ben click HERE