Live // Nick Mulvey, Rhodes, Sam Fender - Manchester

Friday 8th November
Nick Mulvey || Rhodes || Sam Fender
The Deaf Institute

Manchester's historic Deaf Institute served as the perfect host to three of the UK's most promising singer songwriters on a dreary yet enthusiastic Manchester evening. Elevated stepped pew seating, exposed rafters and centuries old wood and stone offered the best acoustics you could demand for stripped back and rustic music. The talented trio were all lone rangers for the night with no hint of accompaniment for any of them. Just as well they were good then.

Sam Fender comes from the North East of England and isn't a name I've come across before and his songwriting was evocative of James Morrison's accessible and well constructed pop for the acoustic guitar romancers. His real strength though lies in his incredible voice which sits somewhere between Ben Howard and George Ezra, the raspy grit, emotion and power in those vocal chords is show stopping and he certainly made an impression tonight.

Rhodes appeared on staged dressed like he was in The xx and that in itself seems to indicate his place amongst singer songwriters. He's not from the usual mould; his songs are soulful and full, his voice gyrates between yearning tenderness and rip roaring intensity and most strikingly he plays the guitar with no band yet without sounding like a solo guitarist. The nights highlight was set closer Always which would have brought even the most hardened criminal bastard to his blubbering knees as the mood from his Raise Your Love EP was magnified and expanded live.

And so to our headliner, Nick Mulvey who received rapturous applause from an adoring full venue. I was curious to see how many of the turnout were there because of his recent Radio 1 playlisting but Nitrous was scarcely the best received song of the night and Mulvey's back catalogue was lapped up by an apparent hardcore of followers. His stripped down cover of Donna Summer's I Feel Love was unexpected and encapsulating and he delivered an hour long masterclass in being a guitar maestro. He expertly blends textures, swells and dips velocity and mood, flexes incredible control and coordination between vocal and guitar and did some transfixing, Spanish finger-fan strum thing to stunning effect. The set ending gratitude and audience photo opportunity was a nice touch too from a talent very much on the rise.