It’s been a couple of years since English singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner has played a show in Ireland, but we’ve welcomed him with open arms – and he’s shown his appreciation in the form of flawless guitar magic.
As the audience shuffled in to Dublin’s beautiful Olympia Theatre, London-based pop-rocker James Gillespie warmed them up with a stunning, albeit short, set. He didn’t make too much mention of any upcoming releases – but keep an eye on him, his voice and emotional songwriting is well worth a listen. Following Gillespie was the gorgeous and calming sounds of I See Rivers, and even though they didn’t quite have the entire audience’s attention – they still played a wonderful set and show great promise for the future. Next up, the main event.
Newton Faulkner took to the stage completely alone. He picked up his guitar, strapped it around his shoulder and brought the crowd back in time to his first album, Hand Built By Robots. Opening with two songs (three, if you count an extended version of ‘Intro’) from an album released nearly a decade ago is a strange move, but ‘To The Light’ and ‘I Need Something’ was the perfect way to get the crowd going in an instant. Armed with only a voice and six strings, Faulkner had captivated the entire Olympia and held them in the palm of his hands as they danced, sway and sung every lyric along with him. Following ‘I Need Something’ was a newer track, ‘Step In The Right Direction’. It was here that he was joined by his band, consisting of his brother Toby on ukulele, bass guitar and a mish-mash of other instruments, and “Fancy” on drums. These two deserve a huge shout out, as they are both excellent musicians and put on a wonderful show behind Newton himself.
If you’ve seen Newton Faulkner before, you know what to expect in terms of his musical wizardry. If not, I can comfortably tell you that, without a doubt, you’ve been missing out. Before he even sings the first note of the set, he commands his guitar in a way that is rarely seen in mainstream music, and he makes it look ridiculously simple, too. The crowd is only momentarily hushed as they gaze in silent awe, before chants and cheers broke up among the venue, encouraging Newton to waste no time and get to the next tune.
He obliged with a set list packed full of the songs we’ve come to know and love from him. Classics from his first studio effort including ‘Dream Catch Me’, ‘People Should Smile More’ and a cover of Massive Attack’s gorgeous ‘Teardrop’. Newer tracks such as ‘Up, Up and Away’, ‘Stay and Take’ and ‘Far To Fall’. It didn’t matter what song was next – the crowd seemingly got louder with smiles growing bigger as Faulkner catered to their musical needs. Even a fun cover of Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ went down a treat!
Leaving the stage following a medley of ‘Sugar In The Snow’, Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’, ‘Gone In The Morning’ and hit single ‘Write It On Your Skin’, those in attendance were still hungry for more. What more could we possibly get out of Newton tonight? We didn’t know, but we were sure as hell going to find out!
With a smile, the dreadlocked Surrey singer graced us with his presence once more. Topping tonight’s setlist is no easy task, but Faulkner managed to do so by showing off his musical prowess with a one-man rendition of Queen’s world famous and globally adored ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. To say tonight’s crowd were sent home happy would be an insane understatement.
Giving this show a perfect 10 star rating is a no-brainer. Not only does Newton Faulkner never fail to amaze audiences with both his singing and his guitar-playing talents, he somehow manages to make a packed out Olympia Theatre gig feel intimate for each and every one of his fans in attendance. This is just one more stellar show he can add to his growing list of undoubtedly similar gigs, and we’ll look forward to seeing him again soon.