It was another beautiful day at Summerstage – Central Park for an eclectic show from Stu Larsen, Liam Bailey, and Passenger.
Opening to a near packed house, Stu Larsen settled in to his brand of intelligent folk. It seems that little is known about Stu, but it appears that he is a free soul who does things way, and for that we can’t be more grateful. He played a short set that was highlighted by the gorgeous number called San Francisco, which had his fans singing along to the chorus. He may wear his jeans too tight and his hair may too long and we may look at him like a vagabond, but man, can he sing.
At this point, the sun was beating most of us into submission, but as soon as Liam Bailey and gang took the stage the heat transferred to the band as they were smokin’ hot. So much can be written about Liam’s set but I’ll start with the fact that this may be one of the most diverse groups on the planet. Tones of Reggae, Soul, R+B, and the rock were heard at the same time in certain songs and while that may seem confusing, it was pure bliss on the ears. Liam has an incredible range and sound; most evident on his hit Please Love Me. His backing band was ridiculous and guitarist Sharief Hobley added a nice layer of riffs and solos over Liam’s impressive strumming while the bassist and drummer were in perfect time with each other while providing hammering grooves. After an hour long entertaining set, they left the stage to thunderous applause and a bunch of new fans.
By the time Michael David Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, ambled on stage the venue was packed with young and older people that were huge fans of the artist. Embarrassingly enough, I had never heard of Passenger before but by the end of his set I was eager to return home to buy his album, he was that good! Having had a very busy weekend I had planned on getting my three songs worth of pictures and then going home. That plan was quickly dashed when he told a story about meeting a man in Minnesota while attempting to quit cigarettes. The man proclaimed that the smoke he was having was the best of his life, for he was dying of cancer and was heading to NYC on his motorbike to see his family and say goodbye. The way Passenger told the story had me enamored, as we have all lost someone to cancer and when he sung the song Riding To New York there was an eerie silence I had never heard in Central Park and many eyes, including my own were wet.
Passenger is a natural storyteller honed by years of busking for a living and had the fans eating out of his hands, he asked for silence – he got dead silence, he asked for clapping and he got that in droves too. He proclaimed that this was something he always dreamed of and it was one of the best crowds he had ever played for. I ended up staying for his whole set off to the side of the stage, I never did manage to pull myself away and when I got home, I bought the album and it’s been on repeat since.
Article by: Shayne Hanley