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Gig Review: Newton Faulkner - O2 ABC, Glasgow


Newton Faulkner is a rare creature these days. In a music world populated by X Factor winners and rejects, manufactured pop and techno dance beats, Faulkner is a refreshing breath of fresh air. His current tour is in support of his latest album Write It on Your Skin and we caught his concert at Glasgow’s ABC, the second night of the tour.
The first of the two support acts is 2012’s beatboxing champion Grace Savage. Grace Savage is no stranger to us at Backstage Pass as we’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform as part of the amazing Vocal Orchestra. Her incredible vocal gymnastics and great songs quickly won over the Glasgow crowd, many of whom were straight on their phones to follow her on Twitter. Grace is immensely talented and although she hasn’t got any material out at present she will definitely be one to watch in future.
The second support act is newcomer Colour the Atlas, a four-piece from Swindon. Their beautiful music intertwined with superb story-telling lyrics quickly hushed the crowd who stood silently to listen and appreciate the music. As with Grace Savage, their material isn’t yet on sale but this tour will certainly create them a solid fan-base when they do release their EP which is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.

Showcasing truly talented musicians who are yet to break into the mainstream is what support slots should be used for and too often they seem to go to the highest bidder. Grace Savage and Colour the Atlas complement Newton’s style of music perfectly and set the crowd up ready for the main event.
Barefoot and strolling onto the stage with his trademark dreadlocks swinging, Newton Faulkner is unmistakable even before he picks up his guitar. Keeping the rock n roll dream alive, he pours himself tea from a teapot on stage and quips with the audience that if more of them had bought the album he could afford shoes. His natural stage presence and affable personality shrink the cavernous converted cinema until it feels like you are sitting in a tiny room listening to a friend play. There is an astonishing level of silence in the audience as he plays his acoustic hits and the melodies wrap round the room enveloping everyone in a positive glow.
His beautiful arrangement of People Should Smile More captivated the audience and now comes with its own footnotes about the lyric he has received the most abuse for online - "I can't change the world cos trying to make a difference it makes it worse". The anecdote revealing the history of the song tells a bit of a sorry tale about how quick we are to judge someone just because they look different – Newton was hit in the face by an old lady at Gatwick Airport for trying to help her with her bags.

By combining audience favourites with material from the new album Newton ensures that there’s something for everyone in the concert. Whether you have all the albums or just one there’s plenty to enjoy. Write it on your Skin was toured prior to its release and the crowd enthusiastically sings along and participates when Newton creates a round robin.
His own music is outstanding and if anyone in the audience was in any doubt of his musical dexterity he also did an astonishing cover of Maroon 5's Payphone. This stunning, acoustic version pours heart and soul into the track giving it a whole new life and much more poignant resonance. Although you can’t please everyone, as the last note finished a muffled voice from the back hollered “WHO’S MAROON 5?!” Newton once again demonstrated his endless patience and affability by then attempting to explain who they are. A fantastic cover of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition was another masterclass in his incredible skill and the audience lapped it up. 
What makes a Newton concert such a unique experience is the informal atmosphere that Newton generates and leaves the audience wanting more. As the lights came up at the end of the evening the satisfied audience left basking in a glow of positivity, uplifted by the musicality, creativity and hope that shines from Newton’s music. 

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