Newton Faulkner at the London Palladium
Last night, the London Palladium was filled with an audience ranging from middle-aged couples to a gaggle of hair rockers. It was a well-dressed audience, indicative of a certain discernment in those drawn to the artist. Newton Faulkner arrived on stage just as well suited and booted, in paint-spattered denim, and made himself at home with his odd socks on display. There were two performing areas: a main setup and a more gentlemen’s club-feel area, with a hanging, oversized light bulb and a vintage globe next to the mic. It was a simple but pleasing stage and created a sense of anticipation.
Faulkner himself is an affable presence. He questioned the wisdom of his providing kazoos to his audience, which they took to with buzzy alacrity. The kazoo is the clown of the instrument world, from its silly name to the ludicrous sound it makes, and it never failed to draw a smile. A whole theatre full of them mixed with a bar meant that there were some glorious sounds punctuating the night. Apparently, the team thought they had bought enough for at least four shows but that supply had all gone on the first night, he said with a chuckle. His well-modulated speaking voice hinted at the potential for the angelic notes within. A phone ringing elicited boos, to which a bemused Faulkner wondered, “I have no idea what that reaction meant.” There was a certain fragility and eagerness to entertain that was endearing.
The whole near two-hour set was Faulkner alone, singing and playing guitar, with help from a digital drum and foot pedals. His talent is searing. It is quite a feat to hold an audience that long by yourself. His voice was powerful and beautiful, accentuated with reverb. A highlight was Finger Tips, a raw, enrapturing performance against lazily revolving refracted light. Hypnotic. Following that was a heart-wrenching Teardrop. Later, a cover of No Diggity was percussive and fun. Some particularly vocal fans insisted upon the Spongebob Squarepants theme, to which he obliged. The kazoos came into play on Clouds, with the audience joining in surprisingly tunefully. Breakthrough single Dream Catch Me was as well-received as new material such as Don’t Leave Me Waiting. The songs are bare and powerful, with lyrics from the heart.
Each track required a change of guitar which slowed the pace down slightly, but “artists gonna art” and if that’s what Faulkner needed to get that sound, then who could complain? The musician is hugely talented, with one of the best voices in British music. There are worse ways to spend an evening than in the company of this genial troubadour.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Newton Faulkner’s website here.
Watch the video for Don’t Leave Me Waiting here: