Has there ever been a moment where a piece of music has really hit you hard? Music has the power to hit, but never does this act or force leave any physical mark or pain, only satisfaction and pure inspiration.
Nick Mulvey and his stunning ‘hand-picked’ band (they really are worthy of an independent mention) left me in awe with the way they opened their set in a tiny bar in Truro last April. That was my introduction to Nick Mulvey; I hadn’t heard any of his music prior to that evening. I saw a guy with his acoustic guitar and thought I already knew what would be coming from him. Yet, I hadn’t predicted that the five of them could assemble and gel together so perfectly, so magically, that the very first song completely moved and overwhelmed me.
It was thrilling to see that Nick Mulvey chose to open his Falmouth show in a way that mirrored the first time I heard him. It was the 3rd track, ‘April’, on his debut album which had stirred me; the wonderfully eerie sound of the reverb and delay leaving long echoes on the acoustic finger-picking, really sparked something unique. It made a perfect opening track.
He used a similar effect on his guitar during ‘Trelis’, one of the songs he humbly announced to his audience, as his band left the stage, that he wanted to play to ‘just us’- alone with his fans. This song really showcases Nick Mulvey’s talents; how he picks his guitar so quickly in a classical style proves the knowledge of music he has, and then how he manages to sing so well at the same time is beyond me!
A must-mention is Nick’s only female band member, Isadora. She was immediately drawing when she performed with Nick that night in Truro; beautifully pale with gorgeous wild hair, she stood barefoot, eyes closed and smiling, completely lost in the music and equipped with every sort of percussion instrument. She sang backing vocals whilst stroking bells, shaking tambourines and even simply (but very effectively) clapping her hands into the mic.
Isadora once again added to Nick’s vocals with warming harmonies, but I felt that unlike the small, intimate feel of my first ‘Mulvey experience’, her vocals were almost lost in the large room and her mic needed to be louder to compensate. It was a shame we missed out on her lovely voice but she made up for it with her enthusiastic ukulele-playing, beautiful stage presence, and looking high on life and the thrill of performance.
There was more dancing than I was expecting from such a chilled genre of acoustic folk, but once put in front of their fantastic bass grooves and tight rhythm section, moving around was not optional. It was such a different feel to simply listening to the album at home; they brought even more drama to the songs and the dynamics were wonderful. Nick even got applauded mid-song, in appreciation for the way he and his band slowed and then re-built the music masterfully.
After the venue had been screamed down in pleading for an encore, it seemed fitting that Nick Mulvey and his sidekicks were put on my list of musicians who exceed themselves when on stage – a definite one to go and see!