Imagine the apocalypse happened. You have two options: one, go home to safety, or two, go to a rock show. What would you do? Personally, I would always pick option two; if this is the end well, I would be doing what I love and die a happy man. This past Tuesday that ultimatum laid before me as Montreal, QC got hit by a snowstorm that turned the city upside down. People were gridlocked for hours on highways, buses were stuck, business closed early, and road safety was limited. So, the instructions were to get home safe and stay there. Luckily 2,300 people decided the best place to be was in downtown to catch a glimpse of the one they call Passenger.
Since there was a storm getting to the venue was a particularly hard procedure. A bus ride which is usually twenty minutes became two hours, and sadly, I missed the opening band, The Paper Kites. Their set was already done, but I did ask around to see what people thought of their performance. I heard great things which sucks because I missed that. Hopefully, the Australian indie rockers will be back in the city soon so I can take in their show.
At around 9:00 pm the lights dimmed and out came a full band followed by Michael David Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, much to the sold-out crowd’s delight. The British singer-songwriter jumped right in there with “Somebody’s Love,” and judging from the crowd’s response it was their love he had within a few notes. Two things you need to know when seeing a Passenger show; one, this man is as humble as can be, and two, he is one hell of a storyteller. He acknowledged the crowd many times during his set and thanked the Montreal crowd for being one of the first shows on this tour to sell out. He is also a bit of a comedian. After the first song, he stopped and told the crowd that he only has one hit single and pointed out that if you came to hear “Let it Go,” you will be disappointed Frozen fans. His song is, of course, “Let Her Go” which has over 1.3 billion views on Youtube. He continued playing various songs like “If You Go,” “27,” and “Beautiful Bird.”
The lighting beautifully accentuated the feel for every song on this night and the crowd sang along, sometimes so much it gave me chills. There were many highlights from this night. “Travelling Alone” was one, which he had a great intro for by telling us how this song came about while he was busking around the world specifically in Copenhagen. Again chills; an inspiring and beautiful song which is so simple yet so real. His performance of “I Hate” was just delicious and “Let it Go” was beautiful as expected. The coup de grace was the last song of the set, “Scare Away the Dark,” which was sung so epically and, as he left the stage, in perfect harmony the crowd chanted the “OH, OH, OH, OH.” That moment was so magical, and they kept chanting it until he came out for two more songs: “Home” and “Holes.”
Passenger made us feel warm and safe on a night where everything was the opposite, and he thanked us for braving the elements to share this moment with him. He’s the real deal: a great singer/songwriter with one hell of a unique voice that will stand the test of time. You should see him as many times as you can. You will not be disappointed.
Written by Eric Brisson
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Danielle Kenedy