On Sunday night I found myself sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor of Liverpool’s Central Library, flanked by shelves of children’s books, yet surrounded mostly by grown-ups. These adult appreciators of music had flocked to Liverpool’s primary resource for books, with the intention of spectating a charmingly inoffensive acoustic performance, from singer/songwriter Nick Mulvey.
First on the bill however, was Mulvey’s support act ‘Eaves’ AKA Joseph Lyons, who sauntered on-stage inconspicuously, barely distracting me from my inspection of such children’s titles as ‘What a Mess!’ and ‘What Now? Cushie Butterfield’. Eaves introduced himself with a volume barely above a whisper (conditioned by the venue perhaps?) but this only belied an obvious vocal talent.
Lyons projected his strained, earthy tones and pained lamentations over a melancholy guitar, like a man who didn’t care if people were actually listening. While a commendable approach, ‘Eaves’ raw vocals, sadly lacked the energy or charisma to really spark an atmosphere and it was clear from the polite round of applause, that the audience shared Lyons’ staunch indifference. By the end of the set it became apparent to me, that while his sound was touching and evocative, as in song ‘Little Rock’ the overall act required further refinement.
Another booze-less half-hour break later, (this is a library remember) the headline act emerged on-stage to enthusiastic applause. After a brief introduction and a quip concerning the gig’s resemblance to a school assembly, Mulvey decorously began his performance. Equipped with an exotic, Spanish-sounding guitar and soulful vocals, Mulvey brought a cultured, more accomplished act to his captive audience. Indeed Mulvey’s performance showed confidence and comfort as a solo act, proving that he had still more to offer post-Portico Quartet.
Like Eaves before him though, I couldn’t help but feel that Mulvey’s performance was a little restrained, if not a bit self-indulgent. Despite the balance of class and cool which the venue provided, I thought that his performance could have benefited from an even more intimate setting.
Highlights of his set included personal favourite ‘Fever to the Form’ a song about the song-writing process and latest single ‘Cucurucu’; enemy to the speech impediment.
Ultimately, what promised to be an interesting, unconventional night of auditory stimulation, unfortunately fell a bit flat. By the the end of the night, when Nick Mulvey said his fond farewells and exited stage right. I found myself frustratedly asking the same question posed to children’s book character Cushie Butterfield; What now?
Regardless of my own reticence towards the live act, the music itself still possesses merit, and Nice-guy Nick clearly has his hardcore supporters. His triumphant announcement that ‘Cucurucu’ has reached no. 26 in the charts was reassuring and for this I congratulate him. But for me, this event will remain as underwhelming an experience as it was mind-numbingly pleasant.