After a stellar 2013, which saw the relatively unknown vocal powerhouse that is John Newman rise and become a household name, 2014 looks to be shaping up as a pretty strong year for the Yorkshire native.

Kicking off proceedings to 2014 is his UK leg of the ‘Tribute’ tour. Newman and his loyally formed band descended upon Southampton to a packed Guildhall consisting of an eclectic mix of old and young. Such is the nature of his musical upbringing, citing heavy influence from his Motown/Northern Soul “obsessed” mother, John’s unique style is a concoction of his mother’s music taste and his own modern house influences, all of which when combined – forms a healthy sized dollop of extremely likeable and universally accessible retro-pop.

By far the most impressive aspect of the entire show was Newman’s incredible vocal talent. His voice is refreshingly ethereal and boasts plenty of depth, which is extremely pleasant to see, especially in a time where more attention is paid to choreography and fashion (yes, we’re looking at you One Direction etc) than actual musical talent. Having said that with an album that heavily features brass elements, it would have been nice to see an actual trumpeter on stage rather than a backing track, aside from this though the entire band were flawless, especially showcasing their talent when recreating the drum & bass influenced hit ‘Not Giving In’.

Newman’s been through a lot, he has clearly written a number of his tracks based on heartbreak (two close friends of his died in a car crash) and personal issues (recently had a non-cancerous brain tumor removed). Coupled with this clearly emotionally charged story, Newman’s throaty deep vocals are the perfect accompaniment to such an expressive insight into his personal life.

With a whiff of Winehouse about him, Newman looks to become one of the year’s stand-out performers and already has a number of festivals lined-up in which his music and performance is likely to resonate around social media for months after.

Rory Gilbert

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