I serendipitously stumbled across Newton Faulkner in 2008 in a supermarket bargain bin, his 2007 CD Hand Made by Robots has been in my favourites playlist ever since. Four albums later and I had finally arranged to be in the same town at the same time as the maestro.
The crowd was buzzing as a lone figure strolled on stage and picked up and strapped on a guitar, they went tonto as the first few bars of ‘Intro/To the Light’ rang out. I dare any two guitarists and a drummer to try and recreate the sound that one man and one instrument were making; strumming, picking, banging, slapping, both hands on the neck, never missed a beat or fluffed a note.
I’d have though that something from (latest album) Human Love would have been the opener but this was inspired and following it up with ‘I Need Something’ meant he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Glasgow’s ABC seemed to shrink as Newton Faulkner turned it into an intimate gathering, a few mates round for a jam. He was joined by his band for ‘Step In the Right Direction’, his brother Toby Faulkner on bass and tiny instruments and “Fancy” on drums and bottles. Both these guys are superb musicians in their own right.
The mixture of material from Human Love, and old favourites was nicely balanced, the banter with the crowd was wild and unpredictable and the introduction of a totally pimped out electric guitar and a demonstration of its glories had us laughing with sheer glee. The beer bottles on the wonderfully ironic cover of Justin Beiber’s ‘Sorry’ had the crowd giggling as they sang along. Glasgow audiences sing. Fact. Newton Faulkner had them singing complex three part backing tracks.
Faulkner was having all kinds of fun with the music and the audience, false endings and unfamiliar introductions kept the songs fresh. The band at times left it to Newton to do his thing, just him and an acoustic guitar. On ‘Teardrop’ (the Massive Attack cover) the audience singing was so loud he appeared to be accompanying them. The ABC was a sweating heaving mass of joyous humanity bouncing and singing.
The finale was a medley and when it finished no amount of “One More Song” from the crowd was going to breach the Sunday night curfew. About half way through the set Faulkner had played ‘People Should Smile More’, after such a stunning set I don’t believe they could.