Monday, 3 November 2014

Nick Mulvey - Nottingham Rescue Rooms - October 31st 2014

Flanked by a suitably frightful pumpkin entourage, Nick Mulvey provided Nottingham’s intimate Rescue Rooms no Friday night Halloween frights but rather, placed a further marker down as to his growing stature as a pioneer of an acoustic sound bursting with rhythm, texture and an utterly unrelenting melodic soundscape.
Indeed, much has been made of the musical merit of Mulvey however here, it appears the hype is not without substance. Stylistically, Mulvey is engrossing. He inverts and toys with his chord structures, occasionally landing upon home with a fleeting flourish giving the colour and foundation to his music that ultimately, creates something deeply satisfying. Adopting aspects of Congolese guitar and gospel within a whole host of other touches, he encompases a new wave of stylistically ambitious acoustic artists; it finally appears that the bran flake era which allowed Daniel Powter and James Blunt to forge careers is coming to a sticky end. Thank fuck.

Opening with the almost hypnotic April, Mulvey wasted no time in grasping the audience by the scruff of the neck. Arpeggiating his haunting creation to give a swelling effect that engulfed the small enclosure that is Rescue Rooms, he dictated a hushed silence over his on-looking crowd. What I was interested in and later disappointed in however was seeing whether this sense of control was short-lived; Mulvey does not necessarily strike as the most natural protagonist under the lights. Indeed, the evening fluctuates between having the crowd hanging on his every word and others in which, unfortunately, iPhone screens are aplenty amid obvious lulls in attention. Essentially, there is nothing particularly visually resonant for which we can cling on to. As such, it is almost a confusing visual entity and Mulvey, whilst appearing genuinely appreciative to his rammed room of Nottingham onlookers, at times fails to command the stage as his rising status perhaps demands.

It is in the solo sections of his set, with Mulvey performing haunting renditions of I Don’t Want To Go Home and The Trellis where he excels. The limbo between flat-out acoustic and the more upbeat, traditional ‘band’ performance is eliminated; we are instead left simply to marvel at the London-born singers’ effortless grace of the guitar that couples so wonderfully with his rich, thought-provoking vocals. That said, this does not distract from the great merit with which Mulvey executes fan-favourites including Cucurucu, Fever to the Form and the energetic and gritty Juramidam, a particular highlight in which Mulvey infuses harmonics and a bouncing guitar line to bring widespread head-bopping and halloween hip-shaking.

Accompanied by the lush, atmospheric hang (a UFO shaped steel drum), the endearing singer-songwriter finished his set to rapturous appreciation with a charmingly creative and irresistibly slick take on Drake’s Hold On, We’re Going Home, before concluding with his now customary finisher, Nitrous. Importantly, whilst his live set does at times feel lacking in something, given the relatively infant stage of his solo career, such a weakness should be of little concern to Mulvey who musically, was at times awe-inspiring. Such was his excellence, I was often left desperately searching for the surly second guitarist hiding in the shadows only to realise that Mulvey - who leaves no stone unturned - was merely executing guitar technique rarely so tonally elegant and accomplished. Mulvey boasts a great sense of cohesion and in his collection of music that is, in equal measures, both original and eclectic in its influences. Given where Mulvey has come from (a member of the similarly striking and Mercury Award nominated outfit, Portico Quartet) it is hard not to feel as though his rhythmically and sonically perfected craft has arrived at a natural moment in his musical path; indeed, for Mulvey, it seems as though this is just the beginning.

Words - MattTaylor
Nick Mulvey official site