"Get your kazoo's here, only £3 each...." boomed the voice of the jovial gent on the merchandise stand at Exeter's Great Hall, I refrained the desire to purchase one but there were many who were snapping them up as if they were going out of fashion, I got the impression that they would somehow form part of the set later on in the evening.....
Opening up the evening's entertainment was a super talented singer songwriter called Charl0tte (note the zero in her name), her soulful voice echoed the greats and it wasn't long until the room was enjoying her self deprecating and humourous between song banter.
She performed a few songs accompanied by her guitarist, a great player going by the name of Joe before she shifted to the keyboard to perform more stripped back, intimate tracks. Standout tracks for me included 'Just Me', 'All My Life' and her final offering 'Nervous' which really showcased her strong and confident voice and with a new EP out in June, I'm sure I wasn't the only person in the Great Hall who thought that this superb songstress is a name to keep an eye on in the future, just remember the zero in her name!
The stage was sparsely set apart from what looked like a portable musical boxing ring sat slap bang in the centre of it, this elaborate looking framework played host to a variety of guitars, foot pedals and other percussional (is that even a word?) artefacts, yes folks, Newton Faulkner was in town!
I'll admit that I have never had the pleasure of being in Newton Faulkner's company before and it didn't take long for me to realise exactly why he was such a draw, his musical talent, coupled with his magnetic stage presence had you waiting on his every word, even if it was just mindless chat from deep within his brain whilst he was tuning his guitar!
I often wondered how one person could create the sounds that he managed to do, there were no backing musicians, just him and his arsenal of instruments and effects and the result was quite simply breathtaking!
He played a range of songs that spanned his career to date, highlights for me (and the majority of the room) included, 'Dreams Catch Me', 'Brick by Brick' and his powerful rendition of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' made me stop dead in my tracks, taking a second or two to actually believe what I was hearing!
His songs allowed him to demonstrate his tremendous vocal range, from booming baritone to ear shattering falsetto and everything in between, even his speaking voice was something of beauty!
With ‘Clouds’, the Kazoo’s came out in force (it was only a matter of time!) As Newton divided the room into sections to provide backing vocals and the kazoo solo, there were random kazoo’s going off all over the place much to the amusement of Newton who must have allowed for a good few minutes to be added to the set as a result! The result was quite impressive, clearly the audience were on good form tonight!
It’s been a decade since Newton Faulkner burst onto the scene with his double platinum selling debut album Handbuilt by Robots and with his recently released The Very Best Of Newton Faulkner…So Far, he’s not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. You can catch him at the remaining dates of his UK/European tour ahead of hitting the festival circuit, keep an eye on his website for more details.
Words by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird