I was very lucky that a John a friend of mine had bought two tickets to see Newton Faulkner only to realise after he'd got them that this week is not in fact half term and therefore his intended partner for the night (his daughter) was not going to be able to come her being a busy newly qualified teacher who lives quiet a way away. Since I'd offered John a spare ticket to see the Guitar Masters gig in Folkestone a few weeks back he kindly offered me the chance to see Newton live much to the chagrin of Daughter-of-Furtheron!
So firstly the venue - like Folkestone Lees Cliff Hall this is an old sea-side posh dance hall venue built in the heyday of opulent summer seasons around the British coast I presume it is early 20th century, lovely mouldings around the walls and ceilings, over the top chandeliers etc. Exactly the kind of over the top extravagance you'd never be able to get past a quantity survey and corporate accountant if you were building something today. The venue isn't bad, a little shabby here and there and with the stage on one of the "long sides" it's not ideal for modern gigs but that adds to some of the charm.
Support acts - sorry didn't catch all their names I think it was Grace Savage on first - UK Beatbox champion or something. Interesting in some ways but not my think really - she has a good voice and the two multi-instrumentalists supporting her made good noises. The next band was a four piece - girl singer who had an exceptionally good voice and the songs had good arrangements but the sound was awful, don't know why only they had this problem but the feedback and poorly balanced mix significantly hampered them sadly.
So to the main act. Newton performed totally solo, brave for such a large venue (I estimate best part of 1,200 people) with a lot of enthusiastic youngsters in the standing area - John and I being of the "older generation" had bagged two seats in the raised seating at the back ;-) A range of beautiful acoustics in different tunings and at least one Baritone provided his arsenal. With three CDs now to his name Newton has a considerable catalogue to draw on and from the first number was in fine form. He can really really play the guitar in the modern acoustic, percussive mode a la Andy McKee, Jon Gomm etc. but he also has an incredibly good singing voice and an ability to write really catchy numbers. He also is a very engaging host providing a bunch of little insights and stories between the songs. He was using some bass pedals etc. to fill the sound out but frankly being essentially one man and one guitar he can fill a very large concert very well. All in all a super night out - highlight was the closing track for me off his latest album "Pick up your broken heart" which was simply fantastic and the crowd all left happy with many singing, humming, whistling tunes from the set - says it all really.
Postscript note - the only slightly odd note was the couple of ladies sat next to us who then stood for most of the show, no problem there but they had come dressed as though going to some ladies tea party, very smart dresses, formal handbags etc. As the night progressed they moved just in front of the seats we were in and were having a great time dancing together, hugging, kissing taking photos on their iPhones ... all ok but the outfits really baffled me - is there some thing in Lesbian circles about this kind of dressing up as though you are a maiden aunt going to the Harrods tea shop? I've led such a sheltered life I don't know...
Postscript - just found this from a recent guitar show in London to give a flavour of the evening.