“Live, it can be really 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.”
Mike Rosenberg, better known by his stage name Passenger, lived out his words this week at the Fox Oakland. No loop pedals or backing tracks were presented onstage, leaving Rosenberg with just a microphone and his guitar.
Not particularly tall or imposing, Rosenberg has a stage presence and charisma that captivated his huge crowd on Thursday night. His characteristically raspy voice and smooth picking style left nothing further to be desired as his music filled the cavernous room. The audience hung on to his every word as he told stories of his adventures busking and hostel-hopping across Europe. “David” tells the story of a middle-aged man, slightly crazed, who seemed to have been left behind as his life unravelled. “Traveling Alone” was written for an Australian man seeing the world on his own despite the recent passing of his wife.
Passenger’s most popular single, “Let Her Go,” was worked into a medley with his “Patient Love;” he saved the encore for “Holes” and a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” Rosenberg reflected, to the roaring approval of the crowd, that while “Let Her Go” often feels overplayed, occasionally he has a moment where he remembers why he wrote it, where the meaning feels just as true, and his night at the Fox was one of those times.
The remainder of Passenger’s tour dates can be found here.
Article and photographs by Kavitha George