The Bowery Presents
Passenger

Passenger

The Paper Kites

Sat, March 11, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Beacon Theatre

New York, NY

$39.50, $35

This event is all ages

Passenger
Passenger
By the start of last year, Mike Rosenberg knew his life was about to change. To what extent, he had no idea, which was probably just as well. Had someone told the Brighton-born singer/songwriter, familiar to millions as Passenger, that he would top the charts in 20 countries during 2013, he might have gone out of his mind.

That his bewitching break-up ballad "Let Her Go" took its time to win over the world -- it became a hit in mainland Europe in the autumn of 2012 and reached the Top 5 of the Billboard chart in February 2014 -- allowed Passenger to process his success, get used to the size of crowds coming to see him and, crucially, continue to write and record heartbreakingly beautiful music.

"Whispers" is Passenger's sixth studio album. Its oldest songs date back to before the mayhem began. Although he didn't know it when he wrote it, the title track captures the chaos in his head when "Let Her Go" started to snowball. Even the songs most recently written have evolved by being played live dozens of times, at shows and on streets everywhere from Amsterdam to Australia.

What you won't hear on "Whispers" is how fame has changed Passenger. Because it hasn't. The album was recorded in the same small Sydney studio as its platinum-selling predecessor, "All The Little Lights," with the same co-producer (Chris Vallejo) and many of the same musicians. Despite its sumptuous, symphonic sound, no big budgets were blown. In total, it took just five weeks to record.

What you will hear are stories -- some real, some imagined -- of love, death, growing up and getting old. And on North American lead single "Scare Away The Dark," already a fan favorite, a riotous rant about technology taking over our lives, proving Passenger can be as laugh-out-loud funny on record as he is telling tales on stage.

"This is easily the most 'up' album I've ever made," explains Passenger. "It's quite cinematic. There are lots of big stories and big ideas. There are also some somber moments about loneliness and death but, hey, it wouldn't be a Passenger album without those. Mostly though, it's a really positive album."

Those big stories and big ideas required a big sound. Hence, "Whispers" boasts brass and strings that build to tremendous crescendos and, as Passenger puts it, "a bunch of people on backing vocals."

"For me, the live experience is very different to making an album," he says. "Live, it can be incredibly powerful just to have an acoustic guitar and a voice, to be able hear all the lyrics and present the songs in a really intimate way. On record, it's asking a lot of the listener if you have only those two elements -- I like to have lots of ingredients to lose yourself in."

On "Whispers," Passenger plays guitar, glockenspiel, melodica and various percussion instruments. He left the piano parts "to someone who can play properly." You'll also hear flute, clarinet, harmonica and pedal steel. Those big backing vocals come courtesy of Passenger's great mate and touring partner Stu Larsen, a singer/songwriter from Sydney called Georgia Mooney and a folk group from Newfoundland in Canada called The Once.

"I met The Once last year at Celtic Connections in Glasgow," Passenger says. "Their voices are phenomenal and as soon as I heard them I knew they'd work amazingly well on the album -- they ended up coming to Sydney and singing on pretty much every song. I'm so happy with the backing vocals. They sound both choral and like a bunch of mates in a room just singing along, which is exactly what I wanted."

"Whispers"' grandest love song is probably "Heart's On Fire," which starts out sparse on finger picked guitar and builds into a dramatic, passionate, strings-soaked plea to the person you can't get out of your head. Close your eyes and you can picture it being played by an orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.

"'Heart's On Fire' is a nostalgic song," explains Passenger. "It's about when the timing with someone isn't right, even though the person might be. And although you're not with that person at the time, there may be a moment in the future where the relationship makes more sense."

With its Western-like opening, intriguing arrangement and alliterative subject matter -- growing old depicted in terms of nature -- "Start A Fire" is, says Passenger, the most ambitious song he has ever attempted.

"It's pretty epic and like nothing I've ever written before," he says. "It's the tale of a guy's life as he comes to terms with growing old. It's not about me -- some of my songs are hypotheticals -- but it's something everyone must feel at a certain age. It's a very sad song if you listen closely to the lyrics."

The most arresting tale on "Whispers" is a true story of a 3am encounter with a man dying of lung cancer. Only the hardest of heart could reach the end of the five minute-long "Riding To New York" without shedding a tear.

"I've been trying to quit smoking for ages," explains Passenger. "Mostly I'm off it, but a while back, I was in Minneapolis, in the middle of the night, craving a cigarette. I broke and walked to a gas station at 3am on a Tuesday morning. Outside, there was an old guy sitting on a motorbike, smoking. As I walked past, he said 'This is the best cigarette I've ever had in my life.' It was such a strange thing to say.

"I asked what he meant and he told me he was dying of lung cancer. He had no idea how long he had left to live, but he had decided to buy an old bike, ride across the country and arrive in New York to spend the rest of his days with his family.

"I ended up not buying cigarettes that night and over the next few days the song almost wrote itself. It has a string section, a bit of brass, ambient electric guitar and piano. And it all came out of that brief, bizarre, 3am experience."

With "Whispers," you could talk tales all day, but it's better to just listen to the songs. The success of "Let Her Go" continues to spiral -- in 2013, it was the ninth most Shazam'd song in the world and the best selling British single; it recently soundtracked the most popular television ad for the Superbowl; at last count it had over 230 million views on YouTube -- but for Passenger, it has simply opened some doors. Thousands, rather than hundreds, now come to his shows and know all of the words to most of his songs. He even continues to busk, as he has since he went solo in 2009.

"I'm planning a lot of busking over the next few months, before the festivals start," he says. "I can't just rock up with an acoustic anymore -- I've had to adapt. But busking is still my favorite thing to do. It's such an honest form of playing music. It's for everyone and it's free. What could be better than that?"
The Paper Kites
The Paper Kites
THE PAPER KITES: twelvefour

“It was wild to write until you are so tired that nothing sounded too over-worked – songs didn't feel restricted by a commonly analytical brain. This record is the sound of five people trying to make something they're proud of... And we really are.”

Pre-dawn lyrics and lush, late night melodies: twelvefour is the gorgeous second album from Melbourne five-piece THE PAPER KITES. It’s been four years since the quintet first formed and turned heads with EP Woodland (followed up by 2013’s Young North) – and quickly became one of Australia’s best-loved live acts, particularly with the release of their acclaimed 2013 LP, States. That record delivered favourites such as “St Clarity,” “A Lesson From Mr Gray” and Young” reaching #17 on Australia’s ARIA Album chart.

It’s not just here at home that the bands profile has been building – with over 150,000 Facebook fans, and with a whopping 20 million views and counting on YouTube, the band have toured across North America under the invite of City And Colour (aka Dallas Green), plus enjoyed a string of sold out international headline dates of their own. Their Australian tours have seen the band play venues such as Sydney’s Enmore Theatre and Melbourne’s Forum and Athenaeum Theatre.

Now, the Melbourne band – Sam Bentley, Christina Lacy, David Powys, Josh Bentley and Sam Rasmussen – are back, with an effortless, sprawling listen that explores new terrain to unveil their best work yet.

“The album is a concept record, based around a theory that an artist's creative peak is between the hours of midnight and 4am,” explains front man Sam Bentley, who’d been searching for a theme to shape album #2. A passing comment from a friend back in August 2014 delivered the spark. “That idea turned into the heart of the project, so every night I'd sit down when the clock ticked over to midnight and just start writing.”

For two sleepless months Sam worked, reversing his sleep patterns and penning 30 songs in his home studio. “I got to the end and thought, I'm never doing that again,” Sam laughs. Lyrically, twelvefour isn’t about some sort of somnambulist or insomniac blues, however. “You’re always more melancholy during those hours,” Sam points out, “but if I could sum up the album it’s about what happens when selfishness and love collide.”

Take the title refrain of the golden, harmonica-laden “I’m Lying To You ‘Cause I’m Lost,” or album opener and first single “Electric Indigo,” with its plea for redemption: “But you’ve been waiting long enough to let it go / I’ll do you right / ‘Cause time is just a remedy / Covered in disguise”. (Be sure to check out the video for ‘Electric Indigo’, starring actress Laura Brent – The Chronicles Of Narnia, A Few Best Men.)

“Neon Crimson” is one of Sam’s favourites, embodying the album’s spirit. “Late-night isolation, a confession, an apology... The album as a whole is an open letter. Words and melodies written very late at night to attempt to understand the heaviest of choices, which is choosing someone else or yourself,” says Sam.

Determined to capture a bigger, bolder sound, the group travelled to Seattle to record in February 2015 with Grammy-nominated producer Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Manchester Orchestra, Fleet Foxes, The Shins). twelvefour is lush and intimate: think drum machines, dirtier guitars (“very much an ‘80s twinge,” Sam insists) mixed with soulful, smooth synth moments – see closer “Too Late. Plentiful late-night vibes.

Recording in the Pacific Northwest was a joy. The band took up camp in the hip suburb of Ballad for six weeks, while Ek encouraged them to push themselves. “Phil was someone we'd always wanted to work with, but I know he turns a lot of bands down,” says Sam. “We thought it wasn't necessarily worth asking.”

“The great thing about working with Phil was that you couldn’t fake it – he wanted to hear the real thing,” Sam continues, recalling a day the producer chided him after a vocal take. “He was really honest with us, sometimes brutally, but all in the interest of making a better record. He made a real point about letting things be how they sounded like they wanted to be.”

A visit to the studio of Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) was like being let loose in a gear candy shop, while blood and sweat literally made its way onto the record when bassist/keyboardist Rasmussen cut his hand while laying down “Turns Within Me, Turns Without Me.” “He cut his hand open playing these weird keys that were attached to cymbals he was slamming together… all which ended up on take we used.” Track “Revelator Eyes” shows off Lacy’s harmonies, in what Sam describes as “kind of fast, still very lush, kind of sexy” vibe. “She really loved that song, we were both pushing for it to be on the record.”

Returning home in April, the record was finally done. Fans can also look forward to a special documentary about the making of twelvefour, filmmaker Matthew Cox capturing the entire recording process in all its glory, warts and all: “it’s not all sunshine and rainbows”.

The resulting album is a startling document to a band truly growing into their own: surefooted and focussed. “As always I hope that the people who listen to our music continue to go along with us. We're really excited to be taking these songs on the road, and bringing everyone up to speed with where we've been.”
Venue Information:
Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway
New York, NY, 10023
http://www.beacontheatre.com/faq/index.html