Music, Review

Live review: Nick Mulvey @ The Albert Hall

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By Liam Briggs
Photography by Georgina Hurdsfield


It began as the pews were filling beneath the stained glass skylights of the Albert Hall. People packing between the vaulted arches as smoke seeped into each corner of this relic. The day’s warmth slowly saturated the parquet floors as spectators scuffed the oiled wood below. Nick Mulvey has drawn out a crowd as diverse as a crowd can be. All generations could be seen from the from the terraces, awaiting the silver strings of Mulvey’s guitar.

The release of his second LP, ‘Wake Up Now’ was not only beautifully presented in artwork form, an almost mirrored reflection of The Pink Mosque, Shiraz, Iran, but it was thoughtfully poetic and at times musically magic.

The light was pouring through the vessels of glass, the crowd meandered relentlessly between stage, bar and bathroom. In support, American musician Theresa Becker Wayman had the task of opening. It was a difficult task, a problem with sound levels saw her roar crash against the rear of the venue and bounced back a hum, unfortunately making for a difficult listen.

Once the stage cleared for the headline to grace it, it was a restrained collection, an Oriental rug ticked tightly between the drum kit and the keyboard. Large boards behind draped in black cloth would later expose a pattern of similar origins to the rug. Attention drew closer as the set became stagnant of movement, as the heat rose like a thermostat.

Then he came, a solo presence at first. Spinning his fingers across his guitar as the cheers mellowed for his welcome. Stood a silhouette before the spotlights eye, he opened with ‘We Are Never Apart’, the first note was perfectly presented, unmistakable and vocally performed with an album like precision.

As we floated through his set, an evident mastery which Nick has developed for guitar was present. His ability to orchestrate an audience with skill, and although the middle of his set featured a slower collection of tracks, his strings never stopped in motion. A constant instrumental, as natural as drawing breath.

Though a delight to watch, voices could be heard above the music, mutters amongst the many which more than outstayed their welcome. It may have been the uncomfortable pews we perched upon, or the heat within the stone capsule, but the crowd was rarely settled in position. That was until the delicate intro to ‘Cucurucu’ sprang out, then, like an army on the parade ground, everyone stood to attention, a track which allowed the perfect response to the restlessness, a rest for Mulvey’s voice as the crowd bellowed out the verse, the chorus and the verse again.

As the sun pierced the stained windows as it set behind the horizon, Nick introduced a melody for the crowd to call as he began ‘Transform your Game’, he responded to the crowd with a comment, “This is for the millennials and anyone who gives a f**k”. An uplifting performance that saw Nick, like many of his tracks, strip back the production and improvise on his six string, playing with the lyrics and chords.

As the main body drew to a close, it wasn’t a surprise that ‘Fever To The Form’ was met with adulation, the crowd cried out as the melodies struck, louder and louder with every second of this song, it was a fitting finale. But the crowd clambered at the ground, whistled at the windows and rattled at the roof for his return, and that he did. He began his encore with ‘In Your Hands’ and led onto ‘Mountain to Move’ to close, by this time the crowd were in perpetual ovation, each word sung from a thousand voices with Nick’s centre stage.

It was a special night to see such an intricate and culturally conscious performer under the vaulted ceilings of such a delicately preserved building. The morning of the gig, a friend told me of a time that Nick graced a small venue in his presence, a capacity of 40 or so, only five years prior to his performance at a sold-out Albert Hall. A digression almost as impressive as his performance.

About the author / 

George Haigh

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