Photos by Merideth C. & review by Dave G.
A night of mellow and beautiful music began Sunday, August 17 when Stu Larsen took the stage at The Fillmore. Hailing from Queensland, Australia, Larsen is a long way from home in Detroit, but he’s no stranger to the road. Having given up a permanent residence, Larsen has spent most of his career traveling. You can hear the influence of life on the road on his lyrics. He set the mood for the night perfectly, mixing clever storytelling with his haunting vocals and folksy guitar and harmonica. His cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” was an unexpected treat. I would love to have heard more from him. I can’t wait to listen to his new album, “Vagabond,” which was released in July.
The second act of the night was The Once, a folk trio from St. John’s, Newfoundland. The band includes Geraldine Hollett on vocals, and Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale who play a variety of instruments. They are supporting their latest album, “Departures,” which was released on August 5th. The Once combine expert musicianship with graceful, yet powerful vocal harmonies. At times Hollett’s voice seems to reach out into the crowd and grab you by the shirt to pull you into it. It’s easy to get lost in their sound, it’s so fresh and genuine. I found myself swaying and dancing the whole time. The Once is truly incredible; a band that I will be paying close attention to in the future.
With such a wonderful vibe throughout the hall, Passenger took the stage to finish off the night in support of his latest album “Whispers,” which was released in June. At times during his set it was hard to believe vocalist and guitarist Michael Rosenberg was on stage alone. He commands your attention with his unique and powerful voice and presence. Rosenberg is a true musical talent. Not many can pull off sounding better live than in the studio, but he somehow does it. You can see that he loves what he is able to do on stage every night; pouring his heart and emotion into every song. You can see it in his face that he truly feels everything he is singing. While some bands who get a bit of critical success might try to add unnecessary bells and whistles to their performance, Passenger kept it simple with just him and his guitar. The Fillmore isn’t a tiny venue, but he made it feel amazingly intimate.
This night was spectacular. One of the best moments was when all 3 groups sang “Angel From Montgomery” together in the encore. So much great talent in one show. I wish the three acts would have just started over from the beginning and played through one more time so I could listen all night. I will have to settle for listening to their albums and making sure to catch them again when they come back through Detroit!