7

Not as cool as Spongebob.

The point of a music review, you would have thought, was to capture the spirit and quality of the music and for a gig, to try and paint a picture of the evening to allow those that never made it to catch a sense of what the night was like. However, at a gig, if the music appears to be a side-show of the main evening, can the review be classed as a music review? Sure, Newton Faulkner, ably assisted at times by a couple of friends, played a couple of songs, including his singles but it was all so stop-starty in feel that at times you forgot there was supposed to a be a gig on.

Getting the music aspect over and done with, he has a hell of a voice but as he hammers away on his reinforced guitar and playing it like a bongo, you realise that impressive vocals aside, there isn't much else to the man. The guitar playing is all very clever and no doubt technically proficient but there is a lack of soul, it feels like a young child who has learned something difficult in an attempt to show off but hasn't picked up any of the passion, like covering a Jimi Hendrix song but being aware that setting the guitar on fire would be a breach of schools fire regulations soothe player merely light a candle on stage instead. It could be really good but at the end of it you feel a but let-down, even cheated, by the lack of drive.

His cover version of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' was well received and was accompanied by a myriad of lights but as before, anything apart from the voice was superficial, and whilst the song was well delivered, it still paled in comparison to Liz Fraser or Dot Allison's versions, which leaves you a bit puzzled as to why Faulkner covered it. There are countless songs where he could have wowed with a version that was better than the original but by choosing a song of such quality, he leaves himself falling short. Near the end of the evening, Faulkner took to the piano and again, was extremely proficient without being tremendous.

What you really notice is that for most of the evening, Newton Faulkner is pre-occupied with doing anything apart from playing music. This is partly due to the fact of his quick rise and if he was being honest with himself, he should only be playing this size of venue as a support and not as a main artist, however, that's the way the music industry is these days, acts who aren't equipped find themselves hosting a full headline show in a 2,000 + capacity venue, even though the crowd was far short of capacity.

To this extent, the crowd are treated to the artist talking the crowd through various chords and how they add dramatic effect, a point which is proven by Faulkner playing a James Bond chord and then a Neighbours chord, all of which the crowd laughs heartily at. The over-riding impression is of BBC2 Saturday mornings of many years ago and the Open University, where a lecturer trying to be hip shows how different music can bring different moods on the people.

This sort of entertainment has its place and its not really in a major gig venue where people are paying around 15 for the privilege but then again, if the punters are willing to pay for this and no doubt impress their like- minded friends that they saw a grown man play the theme tune to Spongebob Squarepants and got people to sing along with it, who is really at fault? Newton Faulkner is even more proof of the growing number of music fans who don't actually like music, its as interchangeable as any other form of entertainment to these people and much like football losing some its soul after Italia 90 and the advent of Sky repositioned it to suit the needs of the chattering masses, so the music industry is faced with the rise of moderately talented yet amazingly average acts, all with their own individual niche, that keeps churning the money in.

At one point, Faulkner took to mimicking Jack Johnson and its unclear if the irony was lost on any of the people in the venue, fair enough Jack Johnson isn't the most credible of acts and he has sold loads of records through Disney and painting himself as a sunshine surfer dude but one look at Faulkners attire and demeanour gives the impression that only the outfits change between him and Johnson. And when Faulkner attempts a version of one of his songs in a Kings Of Leon style, you start to wonder what his aim was, apart from filling up another few minutes of stage-time.

Loads of people like Newton Faulkner, they'll appreciate his voice and no doubt they'll tell themselves that the big dreadlocked ginger is really one of them, they're still hip, they're still rebellious and they're still beating the man at the mans own game. Sadly, that's not true and Newton Faulkner, and his fans, are part of the one big machine and are as rebellious as custard. With more material to showcase his true talents, Newton Faulkner will thrive but if he continues in this manner, theres only so much that he can do.