John Newman - Academy 2, Manchester

John Newman took to the stage at Manchester Academy last month, a place I had never had the privilege of going to before. I was pleasantly surprised as it looked like an old school hall and provided an intimate experience for those stood from the front right to the back.

I hadn't previously looked into who the support acts were, so I was surprised to hear the intro of 'Rumour' blasting from the stage. I instantly knew the song and it only took me seconds to realise that the red head on stage was once again Chloe Howl, who I had seen the week before supporting Bastille. It was brilliant to see her set again, now knowing more about the act, I had fresh new eyes and was able to enjoy her music even more than the last time.

Opening track 'Tribute' is a fitting introduction to the gig. I think this song is really moving, you feel like you're in a history lesson and it sees John Newman cite his biggest musical influences through the decades, name-checking everyone from Elvis and Etta James, to The Rolling Stones and The Cure. He even manages to fit the Kings Of Leon and John Mayer in there. This is something i've never seen an artist do before. As he finally sings: “It’s all for you/It’s all for you/ For what you have shown me/For what you do,” it's clear the album is there to display his journey in music and into adulthood.

The song boomed from the stage which was veiled by a white curtain, the band were silhouettes before it dropped to reveal a crisp white stage, from behind which John Newman confidently strode out to accompany the six-piece band. As the song ended it gave him the first opportunity to take a step back on the situation and the crowd could see how shocked he was to be playing to thousands of people and for those to be singing every word back to him.

He then proceeded to tear through an array of tracks from his new album, showcasing soulful pop with splashes of modern jazz and dance, all led by his distinctive giant voice plus some fancy footwork as he glides and shuffles about the stage.

The encore saw him sing a stripped back acoustic version of Rudimental's 'Not Giving In' - a band that John Newman has become known because of. The gig then ended climactically with a celebratory rendition of ‘Love Me Again’.

(Chloe Howl was hanging around after the gig and we had a nice little chat about Bastille and her set.)

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