GIG REVIEW: Newton Faulkner, Lauren Rycroft and Sound of the Sirens @ The Engine Shed, Lincoln!

Lincolnshire, the place I’ve spent all my life in, only has a couple of entertainment hotspots and one of these includes The Engine Shed, which is in the county town. Situated in the centre of a thriving university campus, the venue opened in 2006 and its intimate atmosphere has attracted a host of well known comedians and musicians in the past decade. Such names include Ben Howard, Enter Shikari, Jake Bugg and The Courteeners! Last weekend The Engine Shed celebrated its 10th Opening Anniversary by hosting a series of special events – Chase N Status wowed the crowd on the Friday, Russell Howard performed two exclusive warm up shows for his impending arena tour on the Sunday, and on the Saturday Newton Faulkner graced the stage! Unfortunately the latter’s tickets sold out in minutes and I was unable to snatch some and I watched the fantastic Blossoms on the Friday (the full live review is on this very blog), but luckily my parents are long time fans of Newton’s, and they grabbed enough tickets for me, my brother and them to watch him perform on the Saturday!

The Supports

In a lovely touch to proceedings, Newton’s support act was upcoming local folk singer Lauren Rycroft. I’ve never had the impression that local singers and bands around here have had the press and promotions from media and entertainment venues alike, so it was commendable of Newton and the Engine Shed to invite Lauren onto the stage! She had a lovely delicate tone to her voice which carried well across the crowd – I could still hear everything she sang with clarity despite standing towards the back of the concert room. There were some arguably ‘different from the norm’ themes in her lyrics, including a theme inspired by poetry, but these unusual choice of song subjects actually worked well in the lyrics and overall package of her songs!

I wasn’t as captivated by the second support act however – honestly, I found the songs performed by Sound of the Sirens, a country duo, a little dreary in parts. As well as the plainness of their material, the duo’s harmonies mismatched each other’s and as a consequence sometimes their vocals went a little off key. Nonetheless, the ladies had a fantastic stage persona in between their songs  – they were charming and carismatic; it was just a shame that their songs didn’t match their lively personalities and ultimately fell a bit flat!

Newton Faulkner Review!

Quality of Vocals

As I mentioned earlier, I was stood at the back of the concert venue due to being completely drained, but I still heard Newton’s vocals loud and clear! Sometimes singers can be timid and almost whisper their lyrics with a reliance on their microphone and sound systems, but Newton’s vocals were strong and rose above the audience singing along to his hits! On occasion Newton just about made some of the higher notes i.e. in the chorus of Human Love, but this if anything made Newton more endearing – a significant proportion of the set featured songs Newton wasn’t naturally fresh on having been rested from play for a substantial amount of time, so his rusty vocals added character to his performance, and at the end of the day, everyone is only human! I’d give Newton a respectable 3 out of 5 on vocals!

Instruments and Energy of the Set

Circa late 00s and early 10s Newton braved complete one man performances – he played all instruments and provided all vocals himself, displaying the insane level of talent the man has! Manning all your own instruments is stressful and can take strain out on muscles and joints, so it is understandable that for the last few tours Newton has had the assistance of a live band. Just for Lincoln he reverted back to his solitary performances, and I think it was a fantastic decision! Despite playing unfamiliar material and facing the pressure of remembering chords and melodies, Newton barely put a foot wrong and his guitar playing style impressed me emmensely! Newton’s energy through the set only grew, and because of this and his commandment of all instruments I’ll award full marks for this section of his performance.

Interaction with the Crowd

If Newton suddenly decided to have a complete career overhaul and explore a path into comedy stand-up, I’d go to a show! He was genuinely hilarious and I laughed at his sassy comeback lines to hecklers (how Newton didn’t seriously lose his patience with them I don’t know), and through his rendition of the Hey Arthur theme song. That show was my childhood, and hearing Newton absolutely nail it brought back nostalgia and left me with a grin on my face! In fact, Newton squeezed in so much crowd interaction that he struggled to make it through his set list in time! Just like Blossoms the night before, I sensed that Newton loved every second up on the stage, and was interested in talking to his fans and making them a part of his show. Again, I couldn’t give Newton any less than 5 out of 5.

The set itself

I managed to grab a set list at the end of the show so the entire list of songs Newton performed can be viewed below – he naturally performed some of his latest material, but stayed faithful to his first two albums and also performed tracks from them, including I Took it out on You, his acclaimed cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, and arguably his finest moment both career and chat wise Dream Catch Me. There were songs Against The Grain and Orange Skies he performed which I’d never heard of, and these amongst others just sounded so pure and pristine live. Just because I’ve listened to his first two albums more I would’ve liked to have heard a few more played from them but regardless I would give his set list a 3.5 out of 5!

Overall Score

Out of 20 I’ve given Newton 16.5 – in the previous two concerts I’ve reviewed I’ve been blessed to see some incredible gigs, and this was another one! Newton will always be one of my favourite singer-songwriters, and I’m so glad he’s stuck with his roots and produced a performance with a close set out to ones in his earliest tours!


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