Live Review: Nick Mulvey – Albert Hall, Manchester

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2014 was a helluva year for Nick Mulvey. Throughout the twelve months he released his sensational debut album First Mind, sold out shows across the country, visited Later…With Jools Holland and was amongst fantastic company as a nominee for the Mercury Music Prize Award. After taking the decision to leave Portico (Quartet) in 2011, he has travelled the world, learning some brilliant and bizarre musical skills and writing sublime tunes along the way.

On Monday night in Manchester, he brought those same sublime tunes to the glorious Albert Hall. Taking to the stage to rapturous applause from the sold-out crowd, Mulvey’s grin was clearly evident even from the back of the room, and his love for the capital of the North was announced on numerous occasions throughout the evening.

On a personal note, though TFFT have covered Nick Mulvey several times over the past year (why? Because he’s incredible!), I have only seen the singer-songwriter perform solo, taking the opportunity to admire his exceptional acoustic skills. But this evening, he was joined on stage by a couple of bandmates – resulting in a fuller and richer sound.

Predominantly playing tracks from his debut record, the hall was immediately filled with rhythm, flowing heavy from Mulvey and his band. The additions of bass, guitar and keys helped create a glorious groove that’s maybe not on offer (or, arguably, necessary) on the record. It did, however, make the experience all the better, with the likes of the stunning Meet Me There and Juramidam being boosted by an extra shot of energy, swirling with atmosphere in a most incredible setting.

Mid-way, Mulvey allowed his band a break, delivering a couple of beautiful solo tracks with his husky vocals, including a gorgeous cover of Gillian Welch’s Look At Miss Ohio and the knockout I Don’t Want To Go Home, echoing a deep love for Glastonbury Festival. The slight downside in these moments was the crowd, deciding to use this quieter opportunity to have a chinwag, but for those captivated by Mulvey’s Cuban-influenced guitar skills, he remained truly bewitching.

Joined once again by his group, it was, as expected, the completely charming Cucurucu that received the loudest applause and a mass singalong, voices rising to the Albert Hall’s beautifully decorated roof and very almost lifting it clean off. But it was the band’s performance of Fever To The Form however, that truly enraptured the audience. A real ‘fist in the air and sway’ moment, it was flawless.

There was a real dance theme to Mulvey’s inevitable encore, opting to blast out his increasingly-famous, groove-brimming cover of Drake’s Just Hold On, We’re Going Home, before rolling into Nitrous, sampling the 1996 clubbers-classic You’re Not Alone, made famous by that well known artist Olive…nope, me neither. This infectious tune brought the show to a mighty, if not surprisingly early, close, with many humming away on the way out.

Nick Mulvey has a great talent for mixing it up. Though his record is predominantly acoustic, he understands the need for creating a bigger sound as he takes to larger stages, and he and his band do so with ease. There were moments when one or two tracks seemed to blend a bit too easily with others, suggesting some similarity in song style, but hey…credit where credit’s due. Mulvey has just the one album under his belt so far, released almost a year ago. To continue to sell-out big venues is no easy mission, but he thoroughly deserves the recognition he is receiving. Here’s to hearing more from Mulvey, throughout 2015.

Nick Mulvey headlines the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow tonight, before heading to Bristol tomorrow and London’s Roundhouse on Friday evening