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Howard takes the crown for musical excellence

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

On one hand we finally saw the triumphant, if not expensive, return of The Rolling Stones, new material from Blur, and had 28 million people tune in for the best of British culture at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

But on the other, we had to endure Rylan Clark, say goodbye to the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, and watch helplessly as vacuous pop spawn Jessie J desecrated the memory of the late, great Freddie Mercury at the Olympic closing ceremony.

Even here in Lincolnshire, we've had our own musical peaks and troughs.

Things started out quite well with Adam Ant and his The Good, The Mad and The Lovely Posse, who stood and delivered at Lincoln's Engine Shed in January, with a cutthroat set of hits and new material, way outstripping most people's expectations of the iconic, yet faded, pop star.

But we've had a few duds as well. For some reason, MyFly are still touring and insisted on bringing their latest pop monstrosity show to their ever-dwindling masses back in April.

And I think the less said about Lostprophets a couple of months ago, the better.

I'm not going to go on an anti-pop rant, though.

Credit where credit is due, JLS electrified thousands of fans in the summer when they made a special appearance at the Lincolnshire Showground, showing why they're the most-successful X Factor band this side of One Direction. And speaking of X Factor, our own Tetney teenager Ella Henderson became the new nation's sweetheart after her shock elimination from this year's series. And after signing a lucrative deal with Sony, it's not the last we've heard of this young star in the making. Not by a long shot.

But there's only one man who can claim the We're All Ears gig of the year crown. Ben Howard.

One of the hardest working and purest songwriters of our generation, Howard packed out the Engine Shed on November 20.

It was a master class in musicianship, with Howard losing himself in his own music and tearing down his songs from the inside.

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

Howard has an innate ability to make each one of his performances unique. It's what separates him as a true artist from manufactured, soulless songwriters – I'm looking at you, Ed Sheeran.

In a little over 14 months since his debut Every Kingdom was released, Howard has already cemented himself as one of the most important performers we've seen in a long time.

And so, as we go into 2013 and a year of new music, I'm learning to take the good with the bad and celebrate the victories for real artistry, like Ben Howard.

Still not going to get over that Jessie J thing, though.

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