About halfway through his set, Nick Mulvey announced he wanted to try something; to do a purely acoustic song, and not only that, but do it in the middle of the crowd, not from the stage. Well Nick, you may be an incredible guitar player, you may write the most beautiful songs with the most amazing hooks, but you are not yet godlike enough to do that successfully, not in the Roundhouse at least.
It was an error that almost destroyed the whole gig. Anyone who knows the Roundhouse will know the name describes the venue perfectly, it’s very round. You stand in the middle and most of the audience is so widely spread only those immediately around or up on the small balcony can see a thing. And because no one had a clue what was going on, we weren’t even sure you had started or what was happening, well, people just got bored. The first most of us knew something had happened was when a cheer went up and he suddenly reappeared on the stage asking “was that good, did you hear?” No Nick, we fucking didn’t and all you did was give the idiots around us more reason to just talk.
The big problem tonight was that it appeared too many people were there for reasons other than the music. Clearly Nick Mulvey is a cool act to see right now, and playing at Camden’s Roundhouse just doubles the cool factor. So I can only assume people turned up for the sole reason of saying “I was they, how cool am I!” And with the mellow nature of much of the music, the subtle sound of every note, it was too quiet, the chattering crowds around me could be clearly heard drowning out so much of the music. One girl even had the nerve to complain about being asked to shut up. I mean, really, you would think we had paid to listen to the music, not her life story.
When I mentioned this on twitter, it was good, in a strange way, to hear others agree, even being told by one girl that she almost ended up in a fight for complaining about the same!
Of course, this rant is pointless, no one who turned up and chatted has any interest in reading about the night, they just need to be able to say they were there. Ignorant pricks.
….. RANT OVER…
So anyway, back to the gig.
Nick Mulvey is clearly a talented musician, I mean, he played the Hang in his time with former band, Portico Quartet (look it up, it’s real! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hang_(instrument))and he seems to have put together a band that can support him in highlighting that talent, although he now concentrates on the guitar, maybe a good career move if he wants a little more commercial attention.
He walked casually on stage, baseball cap in place, which seems almost to be a trademark look, I’m sure it is the same one he wears on the album cover? No theatrics as he takes centre stage, the band giving him all the space, afterall, it is him we have come to see and hear.
From the opening bars of Alisa Craig, its gentle sweeping sound gradually building up, the audience, at least those of us who were interested, were rapt. The Roundhouse allowing his sound to flow and fill the room, the minute detail of his guitar work crystal clear.
He rattles through song after song, flawlessly, with the majority of the audience in his hand. As the band leaves him alone to do an acoustic “I Don’t Want To Go Home” I’m starting to think he can’t do any wrong. And then, that fatal error, the acoustic song in the crowd.
He returns to the stage and is straight back into the music again, but he’s lost parts of the audience now, and the beauty of the sound starts to get lost as it fights against the background chatter of those idiots who think this is a pub and the music is for their background pleasure while they talk about their boring lives… yes maybe unfair, but fuck ’em, rude c’~#s.
Maybe “The Trellis” is not the right song to have resumed with, it’s too subtle, too soft, and not powerful enough to stop the chatters, or loud enough to drown them out. Even the distinctive opening of the album’s title track, “First Mind” doesn’t do enough to stop them talking, so again, the lovely sound is half lost.
It’s only when he draws the main set to a close with “Cucurucu”, probably his most singalong track, the chatters seem to remember why they were there. I could almost have laughed when one such person declared at the top of her voice, “oh I love this one” and finally shuts up. The response that we should have given her is “we loved the rest, more than your boring monotone voice”, but I doubt she would have noticed the irony.
The two song encore returned us to the start of the evening, the audience seemingly more engaged again, and as the sounds of “Nitrous” built up, again the night seemed perfect, and over too quickly.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the gig, apart from the five minutes of silence wondering what on earth was going on, not able to hear a sound. So, a good night, a great musician, let down by a bad attempt at connecting with the audience, and further by a lack of respect from certain parts of an audience who should have stayed in the pub.
So Nick, if you are reading this, I will come to see you again, as long as you promise not to try to sing in the middle of the audience again (unless it’s right next to me, I am selfish like that) and if you promise to remind your audience to shut up so the rest of us can enjoy your performance. Do we have a deal?