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Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016

  by Billy Seagrave

published: 16 / 6 / 2016

Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016


Billy Seagrave watches Newton Faulkner play a spellbinding gig at the Albert Halls on the opening night of his British tour to promote his new 'Human Love' album

Tonight’s venue is the rather splendid Albert Halls, which is in the centre of Manchester. It is a Grade 2 listed building and former Wesleyan Chapel, which has now lovingly been transformed into one of the country’s most atmospheric and beautiful must play venues. Newton Faulkner has chosen to start the British leg of his 'Human Love' tour, which has already seen him cover a large part of Europe already. Tonight’s support is provided by the rather splendid James Gillespie, who has a manner and music to match his wonderful lyrics. He is an artist that I feel will make great strides in the near future. Next up is I See Rivers, who are a three-piece from Norway that ooze charisma. They combine a honey-dewed blend of layered keyboards and acoustic guitar mixed with simple electric guitar rhythm and a single drum, all held together by silky vocal delivery from all three. Their joy of being on stage is clearly shown as they turn to each other to simply confirm that, yes, we are here. Faulkner is at the side of the stage to watch and support both warm-up acts, a sight that must have been so appreciated by both acts, an early indication of how hospitable our host is. Surrey-based Faulkner is touring his much acclaimed fifth studio album, 'Human Love'. Has ten years really passed since we were introduced to his debut, 'Hand Built by Robots'? Faulkner's roots are firmly based in folk/rock, which is a genre that can sometimes be difficult to portray to an audience in excess of two thousand at a sold-out venue. Our host comes onto stage guided by three solitary spotlights shining down on him, grinning warmly and thanking everyone for coming out. He opens his set with 'To the Light' and quickly follows this with 'I Need Something'. His vocals are outstanding, a deep rich, velvet undertone of heartfelt lyrics delivered to an audience who are spellbound by charm and charisma. It is also apparent how accomplished his guitar playing has become, fingers traversing the fret board with hammer ons and pull offs, tapping of the case from end to end to create a rhythm and a sound so enchanting, yet so natural. A shout out from a member of the audience of “We love you, Newton” brings a moment of laughter to Faulkner and the rest of the crowd as he acknowledges the appreciative supporter. The laughter is because the enthusiastic member of the crowd has a voice as deep as Barry White and as gravelly as a footpath on the Pennine trail. The night grows in the same way with plenty of interaction between audience and host. Faulkner is joined on stage by his drummer Toby Coulson and also his brother who is also called Toby on additional guitar, both admirably putting a little meat on the bones so to speak with vocals and musical backbone. It is a slightly more upbeat section of the show, one that goes down well with the audience. Like a good folk song, it is not enough just for the lyrics to have a meaning or a sentiment. There has to be a structure to the song, a hook that brings you into the music, which ultimately has to be delivered properly, Faulkner has this in abundance. He is a master of the craft. There is no frantic thrashing about the stage. It is more like watching a cruise ship sailing along on a bright sunny day. Everyone is happily on board awaiting the next destination (song) to disembark into. All too quickly the end is near with 'Gone in the Morning', followed along with 'Basket Case' by Green Day, Faulkner has been cast as Johnny in 'American Idiot', the play of Green Day songs, which will run at Belfast Theatre from the end of June as soon as his own tour finishes. Faulkner could easily have been playing to a handful of people in someone’s living room or busking on a street corner. He, however, invited this audience into his house, albeit tonight at the Albert Halls in Manchester. Photos by Billy Seagrave www.seagravesocialphotography.com

Also at Albert Hall, Manchester

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Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016

Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016

Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016

Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016

Newton Faulkner - Albert Hall, Manchester, 30/3/2016

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