Touring around in a knackered old campervan and delivering sets in small venues clearly suits John Newman and based on tonight’s performance he’s having the time of his life.
A capacity crowd at the Leeds Brudenell welcomed back a Yorkshire/Settle/Leeds boy who with his 3-piece band delivered a blistering set. His meteoric rise to fame is well documented with his collaborations with Calvin Harris and Rudimental, and his two albums released in 2013 and 2015 and numerous awards picked up along the way confirmed that this boy has got real talent, particularly with his unique vocal style which was sounded as good as ever.
He took to the stage at 9:00pm, and from the start this was home fixture for him, especially with his family in the audience! Throughout the evening, he was funny, engaging, articulate and honest about what’s been happening in the 7 years since he came to the public’s attention.
It’s not everybody who can say that they popped down to Tescos with Calvin Harris!!
His version of The Kings Of Leon, ‘Use Somebody’ dedicated to friends who died in a road accident, whilst being poignant, was a highlight of the evening with the entire audience taking over singing duties and brought the house down.
It was good to see that his new material shows real promise and ‘Stand By Me’ (dedicated to Fleur from Harrogate) with the singalong chorus was well received by the crowd. Of course, bangers ‘Love Me Again’ and ‘Blame’ had the whole place bouncing. The unique bluesy tone in his vocals is still as powerful as ever and was complimented by his backing band of pared back keyboards, guitar and drums was a perfect fit for him and this relatively small venue.
John Newman’s health issues have been well documented, and taking time away from the never-ending cycle of album, tour, album, tour etc has clearly given him time to get some perspective on life. As he said, record companies were putting so much pressure on him to write another huge tune, he fell out of love with music.
But…. the good news is in 2019 he’s rekindled that love, and he’s now doing things on his terms. He’s still ambitious and ‘doing’ Wembley is still his aim, but in the meantime, he’s taking it one step at a time, and tonight’s performance confirmed that this is clearly a good thing.
Travelling around the UK with mates in a camper van, playing in small venues has allowed him to get back to basics, and the he’s loving every minute of it. Having attended Leeds College of Music, he did a lot of gigs at The Brudenell when he was just starting out, and Leeds welcomed him back with open arms last night.
It’s good to see him back, and if he really wants to do ‘Wembley’. He just might do it!
John Newman is touring throughout the summer in the UK and you can find full tour details here: