Kelvin Jones at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall – 13/03/16
Kelvin Jones’ task on Sunday evening was not an easy one. Supporting the British singer-songwriting fixture that is James Morrison at his sold-out Royal Concert Hall gig, Jones had the privilege of opening for him and reaching out to Morrison’s extensive fanbase.
Having recently returned from a lengthy hiatus, for some fans this was the first chance to see Morrison in years. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement, most attendees already waiting before the doors had even opened. They were, however, more than happy to wait another hour for James for the chance to see Kelvin Jones come out onto the huge stage, guitar under his arm, to fill the theatre with half an hour’s worth of beautiful, evocative music.
With a violet spotlight centered on Kelvin, and plumes of smoke shifting in its glare, the atmosphere could not have matched his vocals more. The staging was small yet powerful, allowing the audience to focus on Kelvin’s smooth voice and the sentiments of his music without the background being a complete distraction. And so with the lights lowered, it was easy to get lost in the combination of the light and tones of Kelvin’s voice. Once he’d drawn everyone in with his first song, a succinct display that he has genuine talent, Kelvin jumped straight in with a cover of ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd. Almost unrecognizable from the original, he took the song onto another level, making it at once husky and soft. Unfortunately it seems the audience, not The Weeknd’s target demographic, didn’t know the words to sing along, but all the better; they instead sat entranced by Kelvin’s voice. Mixing in a Years and Years cover, Kelvin effortlessly transformed the songs into more melancholy, emotional numbers like a true professional.
But it wasn’t just his cover that moved the audience, strong original songs had even more of an impact. It was clear the music means a lot to him; his desire before each song to explain the meanings of the songs and personal tales behind the lyrics showing just how passionate he is about what he is doing. Although, his passion is definitely clear enough from the music itself. Kelvin has so much powerful emotion in his voice, expression many artists unsuccessfully strive for, it’s easy to be drawn straight in. In addition, his interactions with the audience show a friendly, funny young man, so that it was impossible for the audience not to get on board with the whole spectacle. His conversational style and laidback attitude displayed a genuine, likable guy pursuing his dream against all odds, adding an extra dimension to the music. He’s already travelled so far from learning the guitar in his bedroom, and it’s clear that in five years attendees will look back on this concert as just the beginning of Kelvin’s rise.
Each song was strong in its own right, single ‘Call You Home’ the most recognized and joined in by the audience. However, it was the final song which truly stole the setlist. Building up slowly, first focused on his voice, a powerful bass soon flooded the hall. Kelvin switched out his acoustic for an electric guitar, himself and the song oozing style and maturity. Rightly so, it brought the house down. It hardly seems possible, but the audience seemed to forget about James’s imminent return. It was all about the clear rings of Kelvin’s guitar, his meaningful lyrics and of course that rich soulful voice that managed to reach out and touch every person on every tier of the concert hall.