Arriving at First Ave a little into the opener, Ken Yates’ set, I was very impressed by the turn out for the show on Thursday evening. I had found myself growing more and more eager for this show after dinner with a close friend the night before; she had previously seen Passenger perform and said it was an incredible show. Yates played his entire set acoustically, as did Passenger (Michael David Rosenberg) and I really enjoyed how intently the crowd listened to both of the performers. And I’m sure having fans listen so intently feels very empowering being the performer.
Yates was the 2017 Canadian Folk Music Award winner for Songwriter of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year. His second LP, Huntsville, was released in the fall of 2016. Throughout his set he played an assortment of songs from both LPs, some of which being: “Keep Your Head Down”, “Roll Me On Home”, “Help Is On The Way”, “Novelty”, and “Leave Me The Light On”. I enjoyed Yates’ set as he told stories and shared details about himself with the crowd throughout the evening. He stated that not many people know about him, but I’m hoping that after Thursday evening his fan base grows that much more. He’s very talented, and when seeing him perform one can definitely tell that music is something he holds close to his heart.
Due to it being an all-ages show, the evening moved along quickly as there was a curfew of 10 PM. Once Yates had completed his set there wasn’t too much of a wait before Passenger came onto the stage. Rosenberg began his set around 8 PM, surprising me, and I would imagine some of the crowd with a fully acoustic set. I believe his other most recent performance in Minneapolis was with a full band, so having the opportunity to see him perform solo was most certainly a treat. He started the evening with “Fairytales & Firesides”, “Life’s for the Living”, “Hell or High Water” and “David”. Throughout his set he shared stories not only about his own life, but situations he has been in that have inspired his songs. I always enjoy when artists take the time to do this because I feel as though it makes the performance that much more intimate, and listeners have the opportunity to grasp the true meaning behind their work.
As the night went on Rosenberg played “To Be Free”, “The Sound of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel cover, “I Hate” and “Survivors”. He shared the story behind “To Be Free” which was a dedication to his grandparents, and what they went through during World War II. During this song the crowd grew very quiet, seemingly trying to get the most from the lyrics and hear the story they told. Soon he pepped it up again with “I Hate” which got the crowd involved, and there was a lot of dancing. Next “Survivors”, “Suzanne”, “Let Her Go” and “Scare Away the Dark” were played which everyone enjoyed. When Rosenberg began playing “Let Her Go” the crowd went wild, and he hardly had to sing any of the words as crowd members took the lead. For his encore, “Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen cover and “Holes” were played. Overall I think he put together a perfect compilation of his songs, and made the evening one to remember; one many won’t forget.