As he rolls into town for the anticipated Liverpool gig of an extensive tour, Getintothis’ Howard Doupé heads down to O2 to see what Nick Mulvey has to offer.
After his Mercury Prize nominated debut First Mind in 2014 Nick Mulvey is back on the road in support of his second long player, the barely one month old Wake Up Now. A more rounded, developed and direct sound that builds upon his strengths. How was this going to translate to the larger crowds he’s gathering this time round?
Arriving on a pitch black stage Mulvey and band open with Remembering and suddenly the back lit spotlights shine onto an unexpected crowd creating an unusual visual, one that surely enables the band to appreciate the many smiling faces and nodding heads.
Mulvey is clearly on form this evening, new album opener Unconditional continues the trademark sound fusing floating backing harmonies, the beach soaked flamenco strumming with that reggae soulfully rhythmic backbeat. The vibes are flowing high, are you sure it’s turned autumnal outside? We’re all still bathing in the real summer’s sun.
Debut album track Meet Me There provides the first of many singalongs of the night- those smiles are getting wider. As the set continues Mulvey sets his spiritual muse free as echoes of Paul Simon’s Graceland come to the fore. If you close your eyes can almost imagine Ladysmith Black Mambazo waiting in the wings about to rush the stage, swelling those luscious harmonies ever skywards.
New track Imogen comes preceded with Mulvey telling the story of its inspiration- at the time, his unborn child. ‘She’s asleep in the tour bus, very rock n roll’ Mulvey announces to huge cheer. ‘How are your singing voices?’ Mulvey asks before heading into Cucurucu, arguably his most recognisable tune- certainly the crowds favourite tonight as they’re left to sing sections all on their own.
The obviously relaxed crowd at times forgets what kind of show they’ve come to see- inevitably the ‘shusherers’ make an appearance. The low rumble more prominent with Mulvey’s delicate solo delivery mid-set. Would seating or a more sympathetic venue have helped increase politeness and give the music the respect it deserves?
After the solo interlude the band return for new album highlight We Are Never Apart. Followed by banter about what guitar he’s using leads to an open floor question session- luckily isn’t taken up by anyone!
Fever To The Form and Mountain To Move provide the perfect ending to the show. Mulvey is certainly carving his own distinctive musical path, one that may sound reminiscent but totally unique in the current musical landscape. Judging from tonight’s triumph there’s plenty getting on board.
Opening tonight was a real treat, 2015’s GIT Award winners All We Are. Their soothing sounds effortlessly complimented by angelic voice of Guro Gikling. Track after track builds and builds like an otherworldly soundtrack to riding a giant eagle, soaring over the Grand Canyon, swooping and diving as the mesmerising guitar loops circle.
The band clearly enjoying tonight’s performance and acknowledge the support from their spiritual home. Standout tracks tonight from their album Sunny Hills include Human (a huge nod to Franz Ferdinand) and Waiting, the latter passing vocal duties over to drummer Richard O’Flynn.
Last track Dreamer is a massive wedge of crunching electronica, low rumbling rhythmical drums, whilst the sprinkling of sparse guitar glistens the overall mix. All of a sudden sound explodes and the beast is set free. Forget that eagle soaring once more, now you may as well be the Targaryen breaker of chains! A band capable of taking you to other places and tonight the crowd willingly ventures forth.
Photographs by: Warren Millar