Passenger @ The Palais Theatre (with The Once) – 17 Jan ’15

It honestly seemed like forever, holding tickets in hand and a never-ending wait for January 2015. Almost to the point where some of the excitement had actually dwindled.

But January did arrive, and after days of listening to Passenger it was time for the live, in the flesh delivery from the troubadour himself after missing out the last time around.

Preparing with pre-gig listening to The Once beforehand was a little underwhelming – and duly, expectations were pretty low. Safe to say first impressions were wrong – but skip straight to the live act for this one. Bravely hitting the stage with an a capella number right off the bat, and impressing with their effortless harmony filled folk, beards and humour worthy of a fallback career if this whole music thing doesn’t work out.

The Once @ The Palais

The Once @ The Palais

Carefully treading the line between sexy and creepy in offerings of love, the less romantic and comedy there was no hiding from the mandatory audience participation, early or not, a trio becoming a choir within minutes. Time was well spent with mobile phones being used to search for gig information on the support with accompanying accolades spoken (and perhaps tickets bought for the Melbourne Folk Club gig in February) to pass time until Passenger arrived.

A heartfelt welcome and thanks before Rolling Stone – yes a miserable start but one Mike Rosenberg had the audience eating from the palm of his hand.

Passenger @ The Palais

Passenger @ The Palais

There’s something to be revered about honesty and sincerity. Jokes about skinny jeans, expectations about seeing a band rather than one lowly person on stage, and polite requests for silence and participation as appropriate during the night aside laid down the ground rules without objection and launched into a good ol’ singalong in Life’s for the Living.

Story telling wasn’t only restricted to lyrics, with the audience hanging on every word of the story spoken about the background of Riding to New York, with the intensity continuing with a gobsmacking cover of The Sound of Silence – and not because of the smoke machine working in overdrive on stage.

Intensity turned to pure humour and truth in I Hate, just to lighten the mood a little and get everyone singing again along with the cheers that followed on hearing that more tunes would be out soon about more ‘miserable observational bullshit’. Perhaps slightly masochistic to derive so much pleasure from misery, but so be it.

Every song was accompanied with banter, and a single voice quickly became a chorale with everyone joining in for Let Her Go. Foot stomps provided cues for everyone to clap in 27 and the encouragement of an ever louder singalong for Scare Away The Dark.

With the fun barometer almost exploding by this point, nothing surpassed the encore sharing the stage with The Once for a medley of tunes – think Brown Eyed Girl, Dancing in the Dark (everyone loves The Boss) and even a little Fleetwood Mac.

Good tunes, great tales, awkwardly high levels of audience participation and laughing at shit jokes could have gone on all night, but sadly all good things must come to an end. Serious levels of self-restraint were required to not buy a ticket for the second show the following night.

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