Every Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT this month I have been eagerly opening Youtube to watch Passenger’s live streams, relishing in the experience of connection that comes with listening to his music live along with thousands of others. Passenger’s half-hour shows have become something of a routine for me, a comforting presence to give order to an otherwise very unstructured time in my life, as I am sure it is for others.
For those who do not know Passenger, he is a singer and songwriter who is best known for his 2012 hit “Let Her Go.” As a fan of his music, I have found his live streams to be amazing, unique experiences. Whether listening live or going back and rewatching the recordings on Youtube, these online concerts make Passenger’s music approachable and intimate. Even for those unfamiliar with his more recent music, watching a performance with thousands of other people is a type of social connection that most people would appreciate in the face of isolation — I know I do.
For each live stream, he sets up a poll on Facebook where fans can vote for what songs to be played the following week. Some weeks he has played through entire albums, such as his 2014 album Whispers, other weeks he has played a collection of unreleased songs and in another he played covers such as “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Hotel California.” He has performed some of his most popular songs from the past decade, including “Let Her Go.” The mixture of old and new songs showcases the amazing range of his music, catering to every fan. His live streams are spaces of positivity and hope, making the best of the situation through sharing music and encouraging viewers to donate to COVID-19 relief funds.
Over the short live streams, we get a glimpse into Passenger’s life and his career as he talks between songs. While watching, I can’t help but think that there is something very raw and human about him playing the guitar in his living room, about his adorable one-eyed cat making appearances in the background, about his occasional Wifi issues. Reaching others through music is something that, thanks to the internet, we can do these days despite isolation. These live streams have brought me closer to Passenger’s music in a way that a real concert couldn’t. Passenger’s songs seem even more real when it is just him and his guitar, as if you are sitting there with him, his lyrics directly hitting your heart. His music tells stories of people, of human emotion, of love and loss. The combination of these human stories and his unique sound make his music amazing to listen to live in a lofi setting.
It is inspiring to see how Passenger himself is using these concerts as a way to connect with others just as much as his audience is. “It’s the highlight of my week,” said Passenger in his seventh live stream. “I love the challenge that these live streams are throwing up as well, you know, revisiting all of these old songs … It’s really helping to keep me right-side up” he says, flashing a thumbs up. “I hope it’s helping you guys as well.” Well, for me at least, it is. Amidst these times of isolation, I hope that you too can find solace through music.
Emma Leynse is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].