Concert Review: Stu Larsen, The Once, and Passenger

August 17, 2014: The Fillmore, Detroit

In need of an August concert and more recently finding myself obsessed with Passenger, I decided his first Detroit show was a must. Unfortunately there was also a One Direction concert in town so maneuvering through the streets of Detroit and finding reasonably priced parking was made a bit more difficult. Luckily we got one of the last spaces in the more…moderately priced parking areas ($20 compared to the $30 lot that the people in line behind us parked in) and made our way over to the venue.

It’s no surprise that the line was wrapped well behind the building when we got there just before doors. Passenger was originally supposed to play the Crofoot, a much smaller venue, but the tickets sold out quickly so the venue was changed to the much more accommodating Fillmore. Even though we got in line at the last minute, we still managed to secure our spots right near the railing. My cousin, Katie, and I spent our time people watching before the lights finally went down and the first opening act took the stage.

Aussie folk singer-songwriter, Stu Larsen met Michael Rosenberg, aka Passenger, several years ago while he toured in Australia. The duo has been best friends and tour buddies basically ever since. It was clear from the first notes of “San Francisco” that there’s a reason that Passenger has continued to bring Larsen out on tour with him.

Larsen’s set may have been short but it was enough to win over the crowd that had packed the Fillmore that night. Larsen seemed at ease in front of the crowd, having no trouble entertaining us between songs. Add that to his amazing vocal and musical talent and you get a great way to start the evening. Every act that night performed at least one cover, and Larsen’s rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You” was definitely a highlight of the evening. I think I can speak for most of the fans in attendance that night when I say that I definitely could have used a song or two more from this Aussie.

Next up was Canadian trio The Once who kicked off their set with an amazing A Capella number that had the buzzing audience completely silent for the first time that evening. Another short set but just enough to truly make fans of most of the people in attendance that evening. Geraldine Hollett’s voice is magnificent, and filled the venue completely from wall to wall as she belted out each song. The Once featured two tracks from their recently released album, Departures and two fantastic covers of Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” and Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (which is also featured on their new album). Again I was left feeling like I could have had a full set from this opening act.

Finally the moment everyone had been waiting for came and Passenger took the stage. Rosenberg made sure to quickly set straight anyone who may have thought Passenger was a band rather than an individual before diving into what he called “the most depressing hour and a half musical set of your life”.

One of my favorite things about the show was how charismatic and entertaining Rosenberg could be on his own. I knew the music was going to be good at least, but it was wonderful to have Rosenberg joke and tell stories in between most of the songs. He was a particularly good sport when someone kept yelling for him to play “Let Her Go” during his cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”. He was definitely more patient than I would have been anyways, assuring the girl that the song was coming. Seriously people, don’t yell out what song you want the artist to play unless they are taking requests and especially when the track you want to hear is a radio single that is bound to be played eventually.

The evening was filled with fan favorites from across Passenger’s discography including, surprise, “Let Her Go”. Rosenberg is a truly talented storyteller and although I had heard the story behind “Riding to New York” before, it was even better when he told it. It was clear how much that one moment shared with a stranger had affected him and I think it’s something everyone in attendance can relate to. We may have only had an hour and a half with Passenger, but it’s definitely a performance I won’t be forgetting.