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Ben's gig highlights brilliance

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

By Ryan Butcher

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The world was a different place when Ben Howard announced his gig at the Engine Shed in February.

The Rolling Stones were still in retirement, Chris Moyles was still on the airwaves and no one had heard of "Rylan Clark".

But more importantly, Howard's mesmerising debut album Every Kingdom was being criminally overlooked thanks to phoney pop stars shamelessly masquerading as folk musicians – I'm looking at you, Ed Sheeran.

Unfortunately, Howard's steady rise to prominence through word of mouth subjects him to lazy and predictable comparisons to Red Ed. But these are often made by people who have no interest in real music and who have never bothered to see what Howard does best – perform live.

Without question, Howard's performance at the Engine Shed marked Lincoln's gig of the year.

Don't believe me? Just ask the 1,799 other fans packing out the venue and shouting every word to tracks like Keep Your Head Up and The Wolves. What makes Howard such an important artist in an age of auto-tuned excess is the way he leaves a piece of himself on stage each night.

It's refreshing to see Howard lose himself in his own music and tear down his songs from the inside.

He wages war on his acoustic ballad Old Pine as if it were a fire-breathing folk-rock behemoth, while fan favourite The Fear disintegrates in a way which hasn't been seen since Radiohead's Paranoid Android.

It's his ability to make each performance unique which shows you the difference between a singer and an artist. It's the difference between manufactured pop and songwriting brilliance. It's the difference between Sheeran and Howard.

In just 13 or so months since Every Kingdom was released, Howard has cemented himself as one of the best songwriters and, perhaps more importantly, performers Britain has produced in a very long time.

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