Review: Newton Faulkner – not just a gig

I arrived at Leeds Beckett Student Union not quite knowing what to expect from the ‘dream catch me’ folk singer I vaguely remembered singing along to in the back seat of my mum’s car 10 years ago.

And I can tell you, I was extremely surprised. 

Before everybody had entered the venue, in the queue outside of the Union, we were asked if we’d like to buy a gold encrusted Kazoo. Not being a typical fan of Newton Faulkner I was curious as to why we’d need musical instruments to go and see a musician. Meanwhile, others in the queue were whispering about how excited they were for the interactive section of the performance.  It was then that I realised I was in for an unusual experience.

The venue was very quirky: a medium sized room with a balcony level which you were able to dangle your legs from – it made the whole experience a little more intimate, which was exactly the atmosphere that was needed for a Faulkner gig.  I did my best to moozy around the venue to see which spot would be ideal – and the balcony was definitely a fan-favourite.

I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful support act, ‘Charlotte.’ What a delight. She was so humble yet confident throughout her whole set.  She chatted about her past gigs, joked about the inspiration for her songs and the whole room were so engaged with every anecdote that she told.  From watching her, listening to her, no-one would have guessed she was the supporting artist, with the way she owned the space, with her beautiful, original songs and her unique cover of Childish Gambino’s Redbone.  Charlotte led us nicely into the main act – Faulkner himself.

When Newton came on stage, you could immediately tell how comfortable and at ease he was with being surrounded by his fans.  The support from the crowd was like something I’ve never seen before at a music performance. The whole room lit up as soon as he walked onto the stage and sat on his stool, ready to take the place by storm. It was almost as if an old friend had just entered the room for a catch up and a live jam.  The relationship Newton Faulkner has with his fans is so down to earth.  Audience members were having full conversations with him from the other side of the room, laughing at in-jokes and singing along to every lyric the whole evening.  It seemed that this wasn’t a concert at all, but a hybrid of a stand-up comedy, an acoustic set and a…  pantomime.  Yes, pantomime. 

Around mid-way through the evening, there was an audience participation section of the gig.  The kazoos came out and the call and response started.  The room was split up into three harmonies, which actually sounded surprisingly in tune. The other quarter of the room’s audience were on the kazoos. Now, if this is your sort of thing – you would have loved it.  Singing with your favourite artist?  Most people in the room were thrilled!  However, I can understand if it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, as it did encourage consistent heckling from the same three guys in the audience – but it definitely added a fresh new aspect to the concert experience.

Dream catch me was an obvious highlight for me. It’s one of the only songs I could fully sing along to and I wasn’t the only one doing so.  The whole crowd turned into a choir as we sang the lyrics to the much-loved noughties hit.

Faulkner encapsulated the audience with his original work and well known guitar riffs, and the covers which he performed also hit the nail on the head. A particular favourite was the recent Lady Gaga song – A Million Reasons. He delivered it effortlessly and transformed the song with his own harmonic style.

Newton Faulkner’s voice is sublime. He has an aura of friendliness which makes his talent even more admirable.  His own enjoyment of just being there, surrounded by his fans and doing what he loved, was palpable.  There was something very special about being with such a wide range of people, gathered in the same room, enjoying the same artist for so many different reasons.

If you ever have the opportunity to do so, I would recommend going to see Newton Faulkner live.  You may just realise you’re a bigger fan than you originally thought.

CHARLOTTE on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamcharlotte/

NEWTON FAULKNER:   https://www.facebook.com/newtonfaulkner/

All photography by Jazz Jennings.

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