MANHATTAN, NY—“This is the first time I’ve sold out a headlining show anywhere in the U.S., so thank you, New York, thank you,” Nick Howard humbly exclaimed to the packed room at Rockwood Music Hall in the East Village before ripping into an hour set of songs from his new album, Living In Stereo, sprinkled with some of his older material. Before long he had the place literally jumping in unison, engaged with his humor and smoothly rhythmic numbers that turned the evening into a celebration.
The crowd was his from the very first note. Many were there to help officially commemorate his inaugural American tour as a headliner, others were curious to see his new three-piece unit—Dave Lager from Duisburg, Germany, on bass, keys and background vocals and Brooklyn’s own Spencer Cohen on drums—and still others, like his friend, singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson, smiled proudly as he took his next leap as an artist of repute. The 32-year-old, Brit singer/songwriter could not stop smiling either. He knew this was his night and he grabbed it and never let go.
These were his people; Lower East Side Thursday night troopers, singing along, moving their bodies in time with the songs they knew well. It was a symbiotic experience in every way. And on this crucial opening salvo to the next phase of his burgeoning career Howard did not disappoint.
The highlights included rousing versions of “You Can’t Break A Broken Heart” (complete with whistling accompaniment), the soaring “Plane Crash,” and a touching tribute to his newly born daughter with the infectious “Super Love.” Before regaling the audience with a short anecdote about being inspired to write “Unbreakable” about the devastation and rebuilding effort of Tri-Staters after Hurricane Sandy, he belted the song to the rafters, shouting, “New York!” whenever he could; imploring his adopted city to never cease inspiring him.
Toward the end of the performance, Howard walked to the foot of the stage off the mic entirely and played a sterling rendition of a tender love song, “Falling For You,” which he dedicated to his wife and manager—a helluva rep, who treats press people like family—that moved the crowd to “awww” and then cheer wildly.
If this was to be the moment when Nick Howard began to make his move into the mainstream, it could not have been a more decisive one.