The 25-year-old was singing his heart out to the sold out crowd at Brixton Academy when an astounding moment occurred. In a to-and-fro fashion, the crowd, without any encouragement from Ben or his quartet, began echoing “Love” back to Ben for what seemed like forever.
It was an ethereal moment, the effortless connection between Ben and the crowd was positively electric. To be able to captivate a crowd in that manner is an achievement that even some of the most experienced entertainers cannot grasp.
There is something that you must understand about Ben Howard: he is a perfect paradox. Do not underestimate his humble and at times timid demeanour; this fellow has got fire in his belly.
In between performances of hauntingly beautiful songs taken from his debut album Every Kingdom, which Ben performed with a staggering confidence and intensity, he delivered brief barely audible speeches to the enraptured crowd.
During these treasured snippets, Ben confessed that he struggled to talk to such a large audience, hinting that it had been easier to when he performed at the infamous pub gigs that had eventually lead him to such a large venue.
After performing his arguably most popular track Keep Your Head Up, Ben divulged a secret that he had not initially believed in the line “May all your hopes all turn out right” when he wrote the song but the astounding reception that he received from his fans had made him change his mind.
Throughout the gig the singer-songwriter teased the crowd with delicate acoustic love songs and then blew them away with heart stopping crescendos. At every opportunity he was met with rapturous applause and unashamedly enthusiastic declarations of love from the predominantly female audience. I dare say that there was a sort of Beatle-esque mania in the air.
This acoustic guitar virtuoso is fast becoming not only an exceptional musician but also a cultural icon among his fans, which I imagine would surprise no one more than the man himself. Aside from his sex symbol status, Ben has won over a legion of fans with his spectacular guitar skills, husky all-consuming vocals and his ability to strip music back to its rawest form and expose the beautifulness in its vulnerability.
If Ben sticks to his guns and his distinctively honest and exquisitely raw sound remains untainted by the harsh commercialism of the mainstream, I see no reason why he cannot achieve longevity in the industry. With the strength of his dedicated fans pushing him forward I think it safe to say that Ben will be a roaring success, the boy has got soul.