You gotta hand it to Mike Rosenberg (aka: Passenger): the 29 year-old indie folk sensation sells out major arenas in his native UK and Australia, yet still insists on busking on the side. Last night, Passenger played a successful gig at the Paradise Rock club in Allston, then announced via his Twitter page that he'd be giving a free concert in Boston's Copley Square at noon the following day.
True to his word, Rosenberg showed up armed with an electro-acoustic guitar and an amp, and set up shop near the fountain at Copley Square, under a small shady tree. A large contingent of young female admirers were in attendance, though many Bostonians had no clue about the concert - nonetheless, Passenger served up an energetic set of tunes from his catalog, including cuts from Wide Eyes, Blind Love and All The Little Lights. For nearly an hour, Passenger wooed the crowd with his soulfully fragile voice and workmanlike guitar strumming on tracks like "Let Her Go", "Staring At The Stars" and "Patient Love" - beside him, an open guitar case which contained placards and CDs.
Toward the end of his set, and before launching into his big hit "Holes", Rosenberg told the crowd: "Hey, before you drop like, $5 into the case, I'd much rather you give it to someone who really needs it. Find a person who needs it more than I do - next time you see a homeless person on the street, give it to them." He then launched into his heart-wrenching song about surviving loss and rejection: "I know a woman with kids around her ankles and a baby on her lap/She said one day her husband went to get a paper and the motherfucker never came back/Mortgage to pay and four kids to raise, keeping the wolf from the door/She said the wolf's just a puppy and the door's double locked so why you gotta worry me for..."
A thoughtful singer/songwriter humble enough not only to pay it forward, but to advocate for the disenfranchised? He wasn't on my radar before, but now Mr. Rosenberg, attention shall be paid.