Cork Opera House ****
Let’s get the honesty out of the way first, I knew one of this guy’s songs prior to this gig, ‘Dream Catch Me’, I like it a lot. That got me streaming in the revolving door, to join what turned out to be a venue packed with what looked like mostly students, more than half my age. Where to start? With the opening song, ‘Where to start’.
And what a brilliant opener from the man with signature dreadlocks, which he has had since the age of 15 — he’s now a year off 30.
Indications were this was going to be a big show, tour bus; guitar techie; backing singers (including his brother Toby and wonderful support act, Sam Brooks); keyboard/cellist; a busy stage that looked like a living room of a cosy house, which included a packed bookshelf and pot of tea, kept warm by a tea cosy; a pine cabinet record player; and then… “Tired of love, don’t need nobody, enough is enough, don’t need nobody”.
But he must have felt the love from the audience after a wonderfully executed vinyl scratch ending to the opener.
Different? He’s all that.
What followed was a full-on, high energy, percussive-acoustic, value-for-money night, of mostly songs from his recent album, Studio Zoo, including ‘Plastic Hearts’ and ‘Indecisive’; ‘I Need Something’ and ‘Dream Catch Me’ from his third album, Hand Built by Robots and Massive Attack cover ‘Teardrop’.
This son of ‘relatively hippie-ish’ parents from Surrey loves to push the boundaries, singing through the sound hole in the guitar, using a ‘dirty’ mic for effect on ‘Losing Ground’, using foot pedals on both feet while playing the guitar and all from a standing position.
His energy, co-ordination and guitar work was incredible. Just like the gig.
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