Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Biko Records Acoustic Launch
My Albatross w/ Daniel J Nixon, Stephan Metcalfe and Dan Cropper
Rating: 4/5

First up tonight was Dan Cropper, an acoustic guitar player whose subdued finger-picking style and smooth vocals kicked off the evening to a great start. His excellent singing was at the fore throughout, and the guitar playing never really intruded. In his assured and comfortable performance he no doubt won over some new fans in the audience, and is definitely worth checking out if you have the chance.

Second up, Stephan Metcalfe changed the vibe somewhat. His chord-based, rhythmic guitar playing clearly displayed a more pop than folk sensibility. His vocals were less insistent than Dan's and his gravelly yet passive delivery had me in mind of Frank Turner. Anybody looking for a more power-chord-y, acoustic punk artist would do well to have a listen to Stephan's stuff- live as on the record, there is a reassuring consistence in the quality of the tunes he has to offer.

Third was the perennially exceptional Daniel J Nixon. I'm told his songs and vocal delivery bear some similarity to Bright Eyes, but I'm not familiar enough with his stuff to judge. The highlights of his set were 'First Snow of the Winter' and 'Matilda, Please', both of which feature on his recent Turn This Stone EP. Frankly, whatever has to be said about his performance doesn't matter, other than that it was cool and a good representation of the quality of his recorded material.

Finally came the headliners, My Albatross. Their folk-rock balladry translated easily to the acoustic stage, and their rich, practiced vocal harmonies more than made up for the loss of intensity that resulted from the electric-acoustic transition. The highlights of their set were 'Rich Man's Daughter' and recent single 'Live and Live Lonely', which (judging by audience reaction) was a contender for song of the night. Personally, my favourite song was 'Changes', if only for the guitar breakdown at the end where a half-time feel and fantastic vocal melody add up to something truly special. As with every time I see them, I can't help but feel that My Albatross are a band made for much bigger stages than the ones they currently play. A yearly festival goer, I know the kind of tunes that get two thousand people singing along, and the simple fact is that in My Albatross' set these songs abound.

My Albatross play the Studio, Manchester on Friday 26th February.

Daniel J Nixon plays Night & Day on the 2nd March.

Stephan Metcalfe plays Night & Day on the 18th March.

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