Newton Faulkner @ Colston Hall, Bristol

Friday 5th March 2010

There was a distinctly couple friendly air to the gathering throng of people in bristol’s revamped theatre come music venue Colston Hall. On closer inspection I got a deeper sense that many of the women have dragged their other halves with the promise of beer and an it’ll be worth your while smile. Seemed to work a treat!

This did lead to the somewhat expected disinterest in arriving early to catch the support act for the night, a very ‘Fair Trade’ gentlemen by the name of Charlie Winston. His shabby/rustic appearance with charity shop chic gave exactly the right impression on a man who is in-fact a very talented singer-songwriter who is just slightly crazy and a tad too much on the side of Bob Geldof for credibility.

Charlie Winston

Musically he played his acoustic guitar with purpose and a pop friendly charm backed up by his immediately hummable and sing-a-long tunes. His sidekick was a very talented Mouth Organist who had a sound similar to a saxphone, interesting and compelling. Charlie laced his songs with wit and humour which kept the crowd entertained. Songs like My Life As A Duck (complete with crowd vocal line “I’m A Duck”) and Kick The Bucket (a tribute to life & living). He brought his sister  Vashti out to sing harmony on Boxes which was a beautiful, if underwhelming ballad. Watch the radio waves because I reckon Charlie Winston isn’t far from breaking into the big leagues.

Newton Faulkner didn’t so much as bound onstage, he seemed to stumble upon it. Seeming startled that so many people were in the room he proceeded to put down his cup of tea and remember what he was doing this evening. With all the “Hey I’m Newton, I play guitar, I don’t have a backing band…” style niceties done and dusted he rang out his characteristic pitch perfect acoustic guitar harmonics on his opening track from the latest album Rebuilt by Humans, Badman. Another stunning show of harmonic’s were displayed on the intro to one his biggest hits I’ve Got Something which sparked a chorus of happy voices from the floor.

Newton Faulkner

Entertainment was plentiful here this evening what with Newton’s laid back nature and rambling story telling between song banter he never failed to raise smiles. He excelled himself on a short melody of covers he’s been experimenting with such as Dead or Alives cheesey classic You spin me Right Round as well as older Rn’B hits like Blackstreet’s No Diggity and Warren G’s Regulate just funny! In fact the cover he finally did play was his Massive (Attack) hit Teardrops. This was stunningly eerie, compelling and beautiful, unaccompanied on his solitary guitar.

Moving off his weary feet he moved to a raised seat on one side of the stage which he liked to call “The Office”. It was less like the office I’m used to as his was crammed with cello effects pedals and a multitude of sonic contraptions.  The addition of the cello effects (played with his feet) add a new edge to his act and musically sounded bigger and bolder. He even risked betraying his fans when he picked up a…deep inward breath…an electric guitar to play a lovely blues based tune.

In his office he was very concerned that we would be disconnected with the music he was producing, so a variety of cameras were set up and displayed on screens to show his foot movements. He even went so far as to record video clips of music samples (namely the kazoo like instrument played on Lipstick Jungle) and a revolving tape deck labelled Strings playing (you guessed it), a string section accompanied backing track. It was basic humour but surprisingly effective and funny!

He finally wrapped up in the office after playing the song of two parts “She’s Got The Time”. This is a brilliant track played with genius simplicity on a guitarlayle (a hybrid eucalalye/guitar), for which he produced the lyrics on a screen for upmost crowd participation (all that was missing was the Disney bouncing ball). Now singing this song is hard to sing even if you know the words, made even more tricky by the fact that you’re busy giggling at deranged lines like  “Chewing on my food on the floor at the station gets some bk its ok tryna be friendly, i said yo do u wanna haribo she said no!!”.

Leaving the office he returned to his classic material as he thrust into the stunning Dream Catch Me which was met with rapturous appreciation. On Gone In The Morning Newton instructed the crowd to sing along as if “You are Pirates with Rabies and are ready to land and storm a beach full of barbarian mother kissers”. Did I mention that some bits of this gig got a bit surreal? Especially the part during UFO when Newton was busy doing a silly little dance. Out of stage left an Alien appeared and proceeded to dance the funky chicken, Saturday night fever and walk like an Egyptian. Probably falling into the quirky (but inspired) category was his cover of Queens Bohemian rhapsody on a single acoustic guitar! What a  brilliant but bonkers idea, one executed sublimely.

Now I agree with Newton’s philosophy on Encores…why bother going off only to “suprisingly” return once more?. He states it would actually be more radical to just stay on stage and play one more song before leaving for the night. Something he proceeded to do signing out with a sombre ballad I’m Not Giving Up Yet.

This was an outstanding show and one which will be remembered for exquisite guitar playing, quality entertainment value, and above all else a superbly joyous performance! This was feel good music at its finest.

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