So, Nik Kershaw- he’s now a well off millionaire who likes performing and writing music. The last time he was in Cork I was eleven. I nearly missed it this time, the Opera House are not the best at advertising these days. I heard about it from his mailing list, but since the gig there must be five or six people who exclaimed that they’d have gone if they’d known about it. The market’s there, but unfortunately the Opera House is not tapping in to it.
Nik is doing the tour with an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal. Hence No Frills. So is it any good? Read on…
So the venue was slightly less than half full. The balcony was blocked with a cool white tent roof. The atmosphere was great and the sound was excellent. Nik used the new Fishman Aura acoustic guitar pre amp, and it sounded really good. He didn’t get the loop quite right on the Boss pedal for the solo on the first song, but he played on.
For some songs he was not enjoying it, just going through the motions. But on most songs he was inspired and happy. He did a wonderful version of Dancing Girls in 3/4 time. The original was an advanced synth arrangement worthy of Detroit or Dusseldorf; this new version was the the dark inside of a man’s head. He performed some songs that are not on his current acoustic album, such as Faces (which was brilliant) and the Chesney Hawkes hit I am the one and only. He said “If I had a pound for every time I played that… oh wait, I do!” He’s actually quite funny, and has strong political views also- he performed an anti Bush song inspired by Michael Moore’s film Stupid White Men: “…a fundamental christian, ya fundament is right”. He also did an old hit that sounded like a Hungarian folk tune for the verses, but I can’t remember what it was.
Don Quixote was a great example of his subtle musicianship. Using the loop pedal in the outro, he built up a three part harmony over three bars. He just did the three bars and that was it. A lot of effort for a short motif, but absolutely worth it! His voice was almost always syncopating over the guitar backing, crossing the bar lines in a wonderfully fluid and free manner. He is a gifted performer and he definitely still has the X factor.
All his old albums are on iTunes. I chose to record my vinyl copies instead, because the CDs are around STG£23 on Amazon. But do get your hands on the songs one way or another, and then treat yourself to his No Frills album, which is basically the current tour on CD. He has revised his old songs incredibly well, getting all of the original orchestrations into the guitar parts, shedding a new light on the old themes.