There is something magical about live music. Standing amongst a community of people in love with the songs being played. Closing your eyes and just letting the sounds flood through you.

That was the experience of watching Ben Howard's, performance at Auckland's Town Hall, to a crowd of eager fans. After popular demand the British singer-songwriter's first ever New Zealand show was moved to the larger venue.

Accompanied by a full band, including a cellist, Howard appeared onstage in a silhouette of light - plucking echoed notes on his acoustic guitar. Steady, stomping, drums followed as Howard launched into Small Things - a new song from his upcoming album.


Ben Howard performing at Auckland's Town Hall. Photo / Beka Hope Photography

Switching back and forth between electric and acoustic, Howard made his intricate guitar picking appear effortless. The arrangements danced from song to song, moving from quiet, slow sounds, into eruptions of layered music that forced bodies to bounce along.

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The Wolves was easily a favourite of the night. Howard growled out the lyrics intensely and the full hall wailed along with him. Solemn starting Black Flies was also well received, especially as it crescendoed into a wall of sound.


Ben Howard performing at Auckland's Town Hall. Photo / Beka Hope Photography

During End of the Affair the stage became drenched in a blue glow - it was easy to become absorbed by the music that drifted dreamily. Suddenly the song burst into a fast-paced electro riff, matched by strobe-like flashes of light, that shook the crowd awake.

Keep Your Head Up swelled satisfyingly into each chorus, like a breaking wave washing over the room. Indie-folk song The Fear, was high energy and seemed to move faster as the audience clapped in time.

The night concluded with a raw encore of Old Pine. The delicate intro of the song turned into one the most passionate songs of the night - giving the Town Hall just one more taste of magic.


Ben Howard performing at Auckland's Town Hall. Photo / Beka Hope Photography
Who: Ben Howard
Where: Town Hall, Auckland
When: August 2