Gregory Alan Isakov, Passenger @ Colston Hall, Bristol, 23/11/2016

passengerFour years on from billion-view mega hit "Let Her Go", Passenger delivers a live performance of character and humour.

His wide range of material showcases an artist both wisened beyond his years yet eternally energized by the optimism of youth.

Opening the show at Bristol’s cavernous Colston Hall, American singer songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov delivers a commendable shift as the lone support act, showcasing a booming vocal to match searing guitar.

Resplendent in classic American folksinger attire of boots, shirt and Stetson, Isakov rendered the auditorium silent at times, with songs including "The Stable Song" hinting at a haunting talent capable of filling larger venues in time.

Touring in support of 8th album "Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea", Passenger is accompanied onstage by a full band for the first time in over five years.

From the outset, the extra instrumentation elevates much of his traditional folksy repertoire to stadium-pop proportions suitable for such a grand venue, offering fresh impetus to accompany that familiar husky, lilting vocal.

Despite a generous helping of new tracks spread throughout the night, it is undeniably his older music, including that ubiquitous ode to loss, that still make the biggest impact.

The success of that aforementioned hit single has offered Passenger - born Michael Rosenberg - the freedom to record and perform where and when he wishes, as proven by tonight’s near 2, 000 capacity crowd.

For those wanting sing-along moments, old favourite "27" is full of them. In turn, gig closers "Scare Away the Dark" and "Holes" demonstrate Rosenberg at his very best, turning everyday struggles and strife into uplifting, anthemic celebrations of simply being alive.

The Brighton native returns briefly to his busking roots when dismissing his band from the stage for a 15-minute sojourn through his more melancholic offerings.

During this segment, it is the piercing "Travelling Alone" that stands out, for the touching retelling of stories he heard whilst travelling the world. There’s also a worthy cover of Bill Withers’ "Ain’t No Sunshine" although it may be lost on some of the younger attendees.

Just as his acoustic musings start to border on the inane, his band reappears onstage to reignite the gig and inject life back into proceedings. Populist anthem "I Hate" deserves a mention simply for its brazen honesty in calling out so many bugbears of modern life.

The night is also memorable for the extended monologues prefacing many tracks, so much so that this performance could be jointly categorised as stand up. Humble and comfortable on stage, Passenger imparts endless tales of his pursuit of recognition without ever testing the audience’s patience, before eventually letting his music tell his stories.

While Passenger may be treading a well-worn path, it’s doubtful that anyone out there does it with such refreshing joy and obvious appetite for simply performing. "Let Her Go" may have given him a platform, but on tonight’s evidence, his dark humour and natural gift for storytelling will keep him there for years to come.

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