Cambridge’s Nick Mulvey took to the stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall last week in his largest headline performance to date, bringing his latest UK tour to a fitting close.
Opening with a solo performance of ‘We Are Never Apart’ he cut a solitary figure on the large stage. Rather than drowning in his surroundings, his brittle, finger plucking guitar style provided a beautiful contrast with the regal reds of the grand arena. By the track’s close he had been joined by his bandmates and segued into ‘Myela’.
Accompanied by electric bass, keys and drums his often delicate song compositions sounded fulsome, given additional depth through layering. Similarly his voice, which is in many ways quite limited, exuded a warmth and texture throughout.
He seemed at home in the settings, humble but comfortable as Mulvey and his team made the most of the room itself, lights roving out across the steep banked seats and artwork projected across the famous pipes at the rear of the stage. This had the effect of bringing the audience into the performance and created the feeling of an intimate living room performance among friends.
His performance grew progressively stronger with each track, with songs such as ‘Unconditional’ and ‘Transform Your Game’ featuring from his latest album Wake Up Now, joined by old favourites ‘Cucurucu’ and ‘Venus’ (given its full original name on the night of ‘Venus Comes To Share’). There was even a place for ‘The Doing Is Done’ from his latest EP, Dancing For The Answers, released the previous week.
Throughout Mulvey proved his credentials as a proper musician, allowing his tracks and the instrumentals time and space to breath. He also took the opportunity to share his messages of positivity and spirituality as well as his hopes and concerns for society, which became increasingly prominent on Wake Up Now.
Mulvey positions himself as a folk singer, with tracks such as ‘Ailsa Craig’ and ‘Remembering’ drawing inspiration from the long tradition of artists who have combined personal reflections with a narrative led approach to writing. He even included a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Was Young When I Left Home’, although the modern take on the track did highlight the challenge for Mulvey in ensuring the emotions he feels are transmitted through his performance.
Despite this, it was the closing segment which captured Mulvey at his best. It demonstrated his ability to combine his folksy roots with memorable, but not throwaway, choruses to almost anthemic effect. He expressed his continued love for breakout track ‘Fever To The Form’, which he admits to crying when writing, creating a magical moment as phone lights consumed the Hall.
This was followed by an understated performance of ‘In My Hands’, his longstanding cover of Gillian Welch’s ‘Look At Miss Ohio’ and recent success ‘Mountain To Move’ to close out the show. All showed a musician who is intimately aware of his own strengths, playing to these in performing with passion and humility that is both endearing and engaging.
Dancing For The Answers EP is out now on Fiction Records and available to stream HERE.
Mulvey also starts his summer festival season next month, alongside shows with Jack Johnson, with his performance dates below.
03 – Omeara, London
16 – Bergenfest, Bergen
17 – PiP Festival, Oslo
29 – La Masia d’en Cabanyes, Vida Festival, Spain
05 – Eden Sessions, Cornwall (w/ Jack Johnson)
06 – Hammersmith Apollo, London (w/ Jack Johnson)
20 – Acoustic Lakeside Festival, Sittersdorf
21 – Colours of Ostrava, Ostrava
22 – Larmer Tree Festival, Larmer Tree
01 – Moseley Folk Festival, Birmingham
Words: William Sutton