This past July 10th, British Folk Rocker, Passenger (aka: Mike Rosenberg) arrived in town with Stu Larson (hailing from Australia) serving as his opening act to perform to a sold out crowd at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver British Columbia.

It was a more subdued event than many of the shows I’ve covered, with the seats being left in place in front of the stage rather than removed for standing room as I’ve often seen at this venue. However, for this show, and given the heat from the crowd, the additional seating was likely welcome by the concert goers.

As infrequent as it is to see one musician perform solo on stage, this evening would then be doubled rare because BOTH musicians performed their sets alone on the stage with their acoustic guitars (with the exception of one song, more on that later) and so kudos must be given where due.

Both Stu and Passenger were charming to a fault with the crowd and interspersed their songs with moments of candor. Stu spoke of his time three yeas ago, when he had short hair and a beard and worked at a bank, how he would watch people with no money ask to borrow money and people with money waste it away. After watching the ebb and flow long enough, he quit his job for a life on the road as a musician. Mike (Passenger), as the headliner, had a bit more rapport with the crowd, chiding them in humor for poor whistling, and blessing those in the crowd suffering from summer allergies.

At one point in the show, Passenger took a little longer to discuss his next song, his hit, Let Her Go. He spoke of how blessed he felt to be able to tour the world, to perform in front of us, as a result of the song. He continued to explain that Let Her go was different from his other songs in that it was written in only 45 minutes. Mike mentioned that he wrote after a performance about 2.5 years ago in front of a crowd of about a half dozen people.

A little later in the show, Stu came out to lend harmony to the song, My Heart’s on Fire.

Passenger closed the night with three encore songs, a striking rendition of Neil Young’s timeless song, Helpless, and then two of Mike’s originals: Whispers and Holes.

If you have a chance to catch Passenger on this current tour, I strongly suggest that you do. Having seen dozens of shows over the years, I know it takes a lot to perform alone on a stage and pull it off. In the case of both Passenger, and his opener Stu Larsen, I’m pleased to say they both nailed it.

Passenger: Let Her Go

Photographs and words © Gerry Toews /
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