nick mulvey


I've lived in Birmingham for over a year now, and I'll readily admit that it's not my favourite place in the world. It has its moments, but in general it just doesn't do anything for me. It does, however, do pretty well when it comes to culture. It knows what it's about when it comes to art, drama, music, and the like. There are art galleries, theatres and music venues aplenty. One such music venue is the absolutely beautiful Institute in Digbeth - a converted Methodist chapel whose stage has been graced by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd throughout its rich history. It continues to play host to a wide variety of artists, and on Thursday evening it was the turn of Mercury Prize nominee Nick Mulvey. Support came in the shape of Sivu, whose debut music video planted him firmly in my good books (if you want to win over a radiography student, recording yourself singing in an MRI scanner is how to do it). 

To arrive at a decent sized venue half an hour after the doors open and still be able to comfortably find your way to a fair sized space five rows from the stage already makes for a pretty good evening. Follow it with an absolutely beautiful show from both the support and main act, and it turns into a bloody marvellous one.

While I'm not the most frequent gig-goer, I do know that support acts can be pretty horrendous (cue half an hour of high pitched wailing and heavy bass playing and the audience wishing they'd not turned up so early). Sivu is no such thing. His set up involved himself, a guitar, and a lovely lady named Lucy on keys. It was understated, and completely beautiful. Playing older songs such as Family Tree (potentially my favourite) in the mix of newer songs from his album Something on High, Sivu held the stage with ease; to do that when you're not the guy who people have paid to see is probably a pretty tough gig. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for a headline tour in future - I get the feeling that another one is long overdue.

After a break in proceedings, filled with Bon Iver playing over the speaker system (good choice, Institute), the man himself arrived on stage. Falling into the category of 'Mercury Prize nominee' is probably pretty daunting, if amazing, but Nick Mulvey came out and put on a show that proved exactly why he belongs there. The live performance seemed to highlight for me more of the cultural influences found in his music, and the album First Mind has now gained a new dimension - I won't listen to it in the same way again. His music was made bigger and better with the live band, and then he stripped it right back, performing I Don't Want to Go Home perfectly - just one man and his guitar, silencing the crowd with pure talent. The stand out moment came from Cucurucu; there is nothing better than seeing the joy on an artist's face when they realise that everyone is singing along - the earpiece came out and the smile grew. To win a Mercury Prize is no mean feat, but I certainly wouldn't put it past this gentleman.

Seriously beautiful music was made on Thursday night, and it won't be something that I forget any time soon.

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