Mike Posner Closes Out India Tour with Signature Calm and Wisdom
At his Bengaluru show, the American pop artist prefaced his radio hits with reflective tunes in an intimate setting
Introspective songs are best enjoyed in rapt attention. But with the latter becoming a rare virtue among audiences these days, most singer-songwriters find themselves up against constant chatter at club gigs. It wasn’t very different for Mike Posner either, save for the first few rows, on the final stop of his India tour in Bengaluru, performing a special acoustic set with keyboardist Ben Darwish.
At the garden party-vibe gig held at the Indiranagar Club by city venue The Humming Tree, the American pop artist performed evergreens and unreleased material amidst the unavoidable chatter of teens. His father Jon Posner had passed away less than two weeks ago, but Mike – neon hair and eyebrows that made him recognizable from a mile away – was an image of gratitude, as one of his spoken-word interludes would convey toward the end of his set.
But Posner started much more cheerily, building on the emphatic sound of his opening acts. A four-song set by Los Angeles-based pop-rock artist Charisma Dixon (who was brought up in India) was cheered on quite well, probably because the 19-year-old singer had enough people her own age in the audience, relating to songs about moving countries and life lessons delivered in a standard pop format.
That same crowd roared as New Delhi singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad took the stage. Performing a solo set and alternating between strumming the guitar for songs like “Tune Kaha,” “Oh Love,” “Fighter” and “Cold” and showing off his keyboard chops on laments about missing loved ones, Kuhad was all soul. The perfect mood-setter for Posner, Kuhad’s changed-up tortured pop-ballad presentation of his tunes was much-needed to anyone who’s seen him often and is more than familiar with his fare.
When it was Posner’s turn, he too assumed his position on the keys before bandmate Darwish would take over for the rest of the set, performing stripped-down songs that oscillated between the reflective (“Buried In Detroit,” amended with the age-old trick to mention the city he’s playing in) and the cheeky (“One Hell of a Song”). In between songs, Posner, whose India tour was certainly a question mark for some time after his father passed away, said, “It’s incredible, I can’t believe I’m here. I hope to God it’s not my last.”
A hitmaker who’s currently best-known for a Grammy-nominated radio hit and songs in a similar vein, Posner insisted on presenting these songs in a very simple style. He gave songs like “Please Don’t Go” and a freestyled surprise cover of UK artist Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” to the crowd, having them sing the refrains, while new material such as “Hold Me Close” required full attention. Another song off 2016’s At Night, Alone – “Be As You Are” – felt the most autobiographical.
After the heartfelt “Gratitude” – which could have been audible only depending on how close you were to the stage – Posner took an elongated road to play his final three songs, taking an instrumental detour with Darwish on his 2010 song “Save Your Goodbye.” To prove his point about wanting an intimate show, he even got the entire front row in a group hug (“There’s no cooties, don’t feel shy,” he joked) by the end of his set. With the one-two combo of his earliest hit “Cooler Than Me” and the most recent “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” Posner gave everyone what they came for, demonstrating along the way that he’s a more soulful, honest songwriter than a few-hits wonder.