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Features / Newton’s one-man-band strikes a chord

Newton Faulkner's music hit the sweet spot between infectious melody and musicianship. All photos: Steven Johnson

“I’m Newton Faulkner and this is a song,” says the flame-haired man on stage as he carefully cradles an acoustic guitar.

It was a humble introduction to an evening of music at Mareel on Tuesday night that at times was anything but, with soaring melody and musical flair exuded throughout.

Faulkner played his third concert in the isles.

Faulkner was making his latest visit to the isles after previously performing at the Clickimin Centre and the Lerwick arts centre, and judging by this form it was perhaps third time lucky for the Englishman.

It was up to rising Scottish singer-songwriter Calum Frame to support but all eyes were on Faulkner, who is touring the UK in support of his new album Hit The Ground Running.

He launched into old track To The Light, while the following Smoked Ice Cream brought things back to 2017 with folk-pop melodies.

His noted cover of Massive Attack’s introspective Teardrop was a highlight, and the crowd was in buoyant form for a wet Tuesday night.

Kneeling down to grab a swig of tea didn’t sit too well with one sprightly member of the audience, it seemed. “Did someone say Jagerbomb?” Faulkner responded to the punter’s shout with a smile. “That would be tremendously unprofessional.”

The music hit the sweet spot between infectious melody – backed by an impressive, soulful voice – and musicianship, which kept all the guitarists in the crowd happy, and Faulkner was good-humoured and ready to experiment.

Faulkner was supported by rising Scottish singer-songwriter Calum Frame.

He played a striking rendition of Carry You on the piano, a song written to show his son about how he remains in the forefront of his mind when he’s on tour, while he also played an impromptu medley of two tunes after some boisterous song requests.

Faulkner said his son thought Carry You was “creepy” when he first heard it, but you wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of die-hard fans got a bit teary-eyed as the piano struck their souls.

There was an almost one-man-band feel to the show, with his feet triggering bass drum beats and keyboard chords, while he used electronic percussion loops too.

But it was the more rudimental elements – his voice, guitar and songwriting – that captured the crowd’s imagination most, with sing-alongs and crowd participation a key focus of the night.

And when Faulkner encouraged the audience to jump along to his final song, the catchy Write It On Your Skin, he got his wish, with eager punters pogo-ing up and down.

For Newton Faulkner fans, this was Tuesday night escapism at its best before the dreary trudge to work the next morning.