CONCERTS: Passenger

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I’ve been lucky enough to see singer-songwriter Passenger live three times now, and each time, he never ceases to impress me with his infectious energy, crowd involvement, funny travel stories, and remarkable music. Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing him in Portland, Oregon with my friend Shayna, who bought me tickets for Christmas! (Click the picture above to see a clip of Passenger performing his song “Life’s For The Living.”)

Michael Rosenberg, also known as Passenger, is most famous for his single “Let Her Go,” which, he jokes, often gets confused with the hit Disney song “Let It Go.” He formed the initial band, Passenger, with singer and friend Andrew Phillips in 2003. They produced one album, then the band broke up in 2009. After that, Michael continued to pursue music on his own, keeping the stage name Passenger as he busked around the world solo. He is good friends with singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, and performs with him often. My favorite duet of theirs is “Heart’s on Fire.”

Each of Passenger’s songs tell a story. Focusing on themes of life, loss, laughter, love, change, travel, stars, summer nights, fear, shimmering waves, growing old, and his views of the world, Passenger captures vivid scenes and memories through his music. His latest album is titled Young As the Morning Old As the Sea.

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Before Passenger came on stage in Portland, the fabulous Paper Kites performed, an Australian band who formed in 2010. This was a fun surprise for me–I listen to The Paper Kites regularly, and I even played one of their tracks recently on my weekly college radio show. They rocked! I was standing directly in front of the guitarist, who had so much energy and incredible skill. I even met the guys after the show (see above), and talked to them about my music blog and radio show. They were pretty stoked to hear that I had played them on the air. Along with being enormously talented, these guys are so funny and kind. Check out their latest album “Twelvefour,” here, and click here to watch a clip of their performance in PDX. (Pictures below are mine.)

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My friend and I were first in line about 2 hours prior to the concert, and ended up being front row once we got inside the venue! It was amazing to be at the barrier–I’ve only ever experienced it at one other concert. Passenger was so interactive with the crowd–he responded to fans shouting compliments, and talked to all of us as if we were old friends of his. Being so close to him standing on the edge of the stage as the lights reflected off his guitar and the beads of sweat on his forehead made the whole experience so raw, real, and incredibly fun.

Passenger told a few different stories through out his set. He started by explaining the story behind his song “Travelling Alone,” from his album Whispers II. Michael said he initially struggled to write this song–he had the first half of it written, but wasn’t sure how to continue it.

Me at the concert.

He recalled the day when he had crossed paths with an Australian man who was travelling alone. The man explained that he and his wife had saved up to go on an extravagant trip together after their children had grown up, but she had died before they had been able to go. To honor her memory, the man decided to take the trip anyway. Along the way, however, he found that it was more difficult than he expected–he began to feel further away from home, and further from his wife, than he ever had before: “He said ‘I’m a long way from the Gold Coast. Furthest I’ve ever known. Oh and this just ain’t my home. It was my wife’s idea, but she’s no longer here. She left me travelling alone.’

The other half of the song is written about a woman Michael met during his travels. Her husband left her, and she told him the story: “‘See, ten years with this man. And a life time of plans. Oh, and I loved him to his bones. Now I’ve lines on my skin…And he’s traded me in. He left me travelling alone.'” Michael described to us the process of intertwining the two stories in order to weave the song together. Although the two stories are very different from each other, they shared a common theme of lost love experienced in different ways. Listen to it here!

Passenger played a mix of old and new tracks during his concert–one being “27,” a fast-paced, witty single that tells the story of his life up to the age of 27. Before performing it, he reminded the crowd of the importance of doing the things that make you happy, regardless of what anyone else might think. He wrote “27,” during a time in his life where he felt he had to “sell out to get sold”–he struggled to create music that he knew producers and record labels would enjoy, but not necessarily content that brought him joy. I sang along to every word!

After his final song, the encore was loud enough to break the glass windows. He had wrapped up the show with his single “Scare Away the Dark,” a fan favorite that features a distinctive chorus of “oh, oh oh, oh, oh oh no’s” that the crowd continued to belt even after Michael had left the stage. After a few minutes, he came back on and finished up the show with “Holes.” Click the photo below to watch the fun encore!

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After the show ended, Shayna and I took our chances and waited outside in the rain in hopes of meeting Michael. After about an hour or two, he came out and greeted us! He was so kind, asking us if we enjoyed the gig. I gave him a big hug, telling him that we loved the show, especially since we were lucky enough to get front row. “Oh yeah, I saw you dancing and singing!” he responded with his thick British accent. We chatted for a few minutes about Portland and music before he hopped onto his tour bus.

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Overall, it was an unforgettable night! Thank you to Passenger for being such a down-to-earth, talented performer, and Shayna, who made this night possible 🙂

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5 Haunting Songs On My iPod

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(Photo by Nan Palmero)

Songs that give you goosebumps are the best kind. Sometimes they’re so well-written, they make you shiver. Or maybe they just speak to you, relating to your exact situation.

In this post, I’m going to focus on those types of songs that stick in your mind even after you’ve finished listening… the haunting, weird ones. I picked the most eerie songs I could find off my iPod, and compiled them below. Enjoy!

1. Transylvania–McFly

This is a chilling song about death, betrayal and love. It follows the true story of Anne Boleyn, who was Queen of England in the 1500s. Her husband, King Henry VIII, had her put to death after finding out about the hidden, romantic relationship she shared with a peasant. This song reminds me a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody–the chorus is powerful and loud, and the song tells a compelling (and weird) story.

2. Riding To New York–Passenger

This somber, somewhat gloomy song is told from the perspective of a man (Passenger) who meets a frail, aging man riding to New York from Minnesota by bike. The man admits that he’s suffering with emotional and physical pain–he’s just found out he has lung cancer, and wants to reconnect with his broken family he’s lost touch with before he passes away. I love this song. It reminds you never to take your life for granted.

3. The Lost Boy–Greg Holden

You may have heard this song featured in season 5 of Sons of Anarchy. According to Entertainment Weekly, “‘The Lost Boy’ is a eulogy for a fallen character, but the song was actually inspired by Dave Eggers’ novel What Is The What, about a group of Sudanese refugees. ‘If you listen to the lyrics, it’s not like you’d know that it was about a Sudanese refugee,’ Greg Holden tells EW. ‘I know what it’s about, but I’m really glad people are able to take their own meanings from it. I like it when songs have more meanings than just the one that was intended, so I’m glad that people were able to relate to it through Sons of Anarchy.'”

I met Greg Holden a few weeks ago, and heard him perform a few of his songs off his debut album. Although he didn’t perform this one, most of his songs were similar–each held a deeper meaning, and shed light on common social, as well as emotional issues.

4. Bronte–Gotye

This song is pretty hypnotizing from the very beginning, and Gotye wrote it about something you might not expect–a dog. It’s based off a true story about his friend who was putting down his 21-year-old dog Bronte. Gotye explained in an interview with Artist Direct: “When you love and care for an animal, you don’t want it to suffer too much. You also respect nature and the natural cause of things. They really struggled with the eventual decision of deciding they had to let go of the dog and put it down. I thought they did it in a very loving way. From what I could tell, it was very instructive and inclusive for their daughters. They did it as a family. I wrote that song like I was vicariously experiencing it. That’s what I’m proud of. In its simplicity, I felt like it captured my feelings of that experience even if it was at a distance. You don’t have to necessarily interpret it as a relationship between people and animals.”

5. Antichrist–The 1975

The 1975 have never performed this song live, possibly because of how controversial it is. Matty Healy, the lead singer, has said it’s their band manager’s favorite song, and that he is always is encouraging the band to perform it live. Matty says this song is really personal, and one of his favorites they’ve written–it represents the fact that he often wishes he was religious so that he had something to believe in, but is however, an atheist. The lyrics in this song are incredibly well-written, with such great imagery. One of my favorites.

My Rainy Day Playlist

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Fall is finally upon us. The leaves are changing colors, the air smells like trees and soil, there’s pumpkins on every front porch, and of course, it’s pouring down rain. If you live in a rainy city like I do, you’re probably used to this. Fall is my favorite season, and I personally love the rain! It’s gives me the opportunity to snuggle up on the couch with some some tea, and listen to my favorite playlist–my rainy day playlist. These songs immediately cheer me up when I’m walking home in the rain, or stuck inside doing homework while listening to the steady patter of rain on my window. So if you’re caught in a windy, wet downpour this week, or you simply want to get into the spirit of fall…click below! (Photo via WeHeartIt)

Rolling Stone–Passenger

Autumn Leaves–Ed Sheeran

Me–The 1975

All I Want—Kodaline

Strong–London Grammar

Ramble On—Led Zeppelin

Cherry Wine–Hozier

Be The Song—Foy Vance

Move Together—James Bay

Three Marlenas—The Wallflowers

Keep Breathing–Ingrid Michaelson