Arthur - Soundhaus, Northampton
lone figure of the troubadour who was missing far too much sleep of late,
stood on top of the small stage with a series of loops acting as his only
support. No this wasn't some kind of street act or cut down hip-hop performance,
this was Joseph Arthur, dubbed "this year's best singer-songwriter"
(I have no qualms in this description) and author of his latest, the highly
infectious 'Can't Exist' (check the website for further insight). Although
you can draw this conclusion from listening to any of his vast catalogue
of songs (4 albums in 9 years), seeing the live performance crosses all
the right boxes and adds a whole new dimension, something that before
hand you couldn't even imagine.
I thought I had a fair idea of what to expect prior to tonight, but in
reality this didn't prepare me for a show that was more than just one
man and a guitar. Before the performance began the audience could witness
a large blank canvas, standing at the back of the stage and might've just
thought this was part of the decor or something to aid in the lighting,
but following the artists rendition of The Smiths 'There Is A Light That
Never Goes Out' (the only non-original number within the set), he starts
to paint, huge circular strokes of black oil on canvas. Had this been
more than just the one man show it might've proved a problem; artist tripping
over percussion and bumping into the less than mild mannered bassist,
but as it was the only real issue was the humidity and the searing heat
of the evening, whilst the pre-programmed loops aided the smooth running
of this audible treat.
What I found most extraorinary, was that throughout the set, just how
both artist and the several hundred audience had grown familiar and amid
the dripping fixtures and heaving sound, it felt like a large family just
getting messy. A performance that had seen alternative rock meld
with hip-hop beats and freestyle art, truth is we were all taken on a
mind expanding journey, with the self confessed indie Rolf Harris
in command of the ship, all that was missing tonight was a didgeridoo.