Live reviews

Joseph Arthur - Soundhaus, Northampton

The 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.

Nick James


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