Live | Nick Mulvey @ Scala, London

For Folk's Sake | Nick Mulvey | Scala | London | live | 11 March 2014

It’s fair to say that a quite a bit of hype has generated around Nick Mulvey in recent months so as I rounded the steps at London’s Scala, I found myself wondering if he’d be able to live up to his reputation. I shouldn’t have worried though; Nick Mulvey is a real talent.

I was pleased to see he hadn’t been urged to put a band together – or any kind of back-up at all – for his sold out show, because left alone to perform the songs the way he wrote them (and perhaps intended them to sound) made for quite a magical night in King’s Cross.

Mulvey specialises in the kind of guitar playing that makes you double check there aren’t actually multiple guitars up on stage, and when you realise that “nope, it’s just him” makes you stand there in open-mouthed awe.

And playing solo obviously suits him best. After playing Radio 1 favourite ‘Nitrous’, Mulvey explained that he really liked performing the track the simple way to which someone in crowd replied: “Yeah! It sounds better!” And this stripped back version was great – but it was by no means the highlight of the set.

He demonstrated his seriously varied musical influences throughout the gig. There was the chorus from Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’ that’s dropped into the end of ‘Nitrous’ and a cover of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ mid-set somehow sounded very at home on acoustic guitar with Mulvey’s voice soaring. And ‘Look At Miss Ohio’, which went down especially well with the crowd, is originally by country singer Gillian Welch.

However, it was new single ‘Cucurucu’ and ‘The Trellis’ (which I really hope will make it onto the album if you’re reading Nick!) that were the standout tunes of the gig for me – both beautiful and totally captivating.

Overall, Nick Mulvey provided a lesson in being “just a guy with a guitar” and showed that if you’ve got the voice and the songs… that’s all you really need.

Emma Barlow

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