Live Review: Passenger - Vogue Theatre, Vancouver 30/10/2018


On the tail end of the North American run of his tour supporting his latest album, Runaways, Passenger bought his wit and ever-amazing talent back to Vancouver to play to a sold out crowd at the Vogue Theatre. Full of amazing anecdotes from his past busking on streets around the world, and beautiful music, it’s obvious why he sells out shows globally.

The Englishman has played a show in Vancouver on almost every North American tour he’s done thus far, and it was very obvious why he continues to come back and sell out shows. The atmosphere in the building was tangibly and simultaneously relaxed and full of excitement as business men and women, couples, and teenagers alike waited to see their favourite artist take the stage in front of them. And as soon as he did they cheered like he hadn’t been back in five years (when in reality it’s been only one and a half).

He kicked off his set with two older songs, Fairytales & Firesides and Life’s for the Living, before getting into his new album with the opening track from Runaways, Hell Or High Water. The first two songs were released 8 and 6 years before the third, but there was no difference in the passion with which he sang, or with which the crowd sang back. There’s something about Passenger’s music that is able to transcend time and space to make everyone in a room feel the same things all at once, whether someone has never heard a song or they’ve had it on repeat for months at a time, it will affect people all the same.

As someone who is well aware of the fact that he writes inherently sad songs, he both compliments with the heartfelt stories of how they came about, like the story behind To Be Free (look it up, it’s an important song), but he also balances the sadness out with wonderful anecdotes from his times busking, some of his more interesting fan encounters, and how he needs to put a disclaimer after he covers Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound Of Silence that it isn’t in fact a new song of his.

Throughout the night he used his stories to seamlessly transition between loud, angry, or fun songs like I Hate and a short-lived cover of Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child, to songs that have the crowd watching on in silence and awe. Songs like To Be Free, and his brand new, not-yet-on-any-album song, Suzanne. While this may be in the job description for an indie-folk, singer/songwriter artist like Passenger, the way he executes makes it feel like he’s the only artist doing anything like this right now. It makes his shows feel so important to be able to witness. This feeling is most prevalent when he plays Scare Away the Dark before the encore. Getting the entire room to sing along with him makes the entire song feel so important to the current social climate. Everyone was so lost in the song that it just kept on going once he had left the stage, singing for themselves now, stomping out the beat. In awe at the passion of the room when he returned, he took a moment to take it in, before transitioning into his cover of Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, lightening up the weight of emotion effortlessly. Closing out the night was Holes off of his 2009 album All The Little Lights.

Unfortunately, his North American run is coming to a close on November 6th, but he will be heading back to Australia and New Zealand for shows from November 13th to the 25th. Passenger is an incredible musician and seems to only get better when he performs live, so if you’re ever able to head out to one of his shows you need to do it.

Words and Photography by Kelli Anne Lane