Live Review: John Paul White – The Deaf Institute, Manchester

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John Paul White is widely recognised as one half of the award winning duo – The Civil Wars. Although it’s been a quiet few years for John Paul, the release of Beulah, his first solo record in eight years prompted a two day celebratory tour in the UK.

Manchester’s Deaf Institute played host to his first live show in the UK since The Civil Wars split in 2014. Stepping on to the modestly dressed stage, White has evidently shaken off the large stages for an intimate audience and begins the evening with an ode to the audience in the form of an a capella cover of Johnny Mercer’s I Remember You. With this offering of appreciation to his supporters, we were assured that John Paul White had returned to a room full of people in equal admiration of his music.

Offering sobering renditions of The Once and Future Queen and The Martyr, White admittedly was never going to put on a light hearted set. His run through of Beulah was soon accompanied by Adam Morrow, who took up the vacant microphone on stage and brought an added layer of southern grit to Fight For You and some of Beulah’s heavier tracks.

Prior to offering a stunning rendition of Dan Seal’s country classic Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold, without any prompts from the audience, John Paul takes a moment to address the great big elephant in the room “Where have you been?”. What we got was a bold and honest truth “I’ve been really happy”. So, there you have it, far from being a product of a self discovery retreat, John Paul White’s new record is a step back into the early stages of his career as a writer for the Nashville industry and working at writing music, based on shared experiences.

Bringing the evening to a close with an encore of one of John Paul’s earlier releases on his first solo record The Long Goodbye, we were once again reminded of the gentle unravelling of John Paul White on stage, not as one half of a duo, but as an artist who is being fully embraced by a familiar audience.

Simi Abidakun