Review By Brian Litwin.
Photos By Russ Ramos.
2013 was an incredible year for music, and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. Rising star John Newman has really hit the ground running in the new year. Having been a featured artist on 2 tracks in 2012 (Rudimental’s “Feel The Love” and “Not Giving In” with Alex Clare) and with the current radio hit “Love Me Again”, his recent live performance at the El Rey only added to the buzz surrounding the young John Newman.
To start the night off, Brooklyn based WE ARE TWIN hit the stage to an all white backdrop and eager crowd. Bringing their power pop sound to a music hungry crowd, they resonated well with the LA audience. Lead singer Gabi Christine, with her long braided hair and her school-girl-plaid skirt commanded the stage and navigated every inch of the space. Playing tracks off their self-titled major label EP release, the single “The Way We Touch” stood out as the star song from the set. The crowd vibed well to their shorter set and even Randy Jackson (music man, producer, former American Idol enthusiast and dance crew dude) was seen in the crowd digging the tunes.
John Newman next hit the stage with a big bang. A backing track played for a minute or so and then lights exploded on the stage as the giant white backdrop curtain fell to unveil a l6 piece band and John standing on a platform in the back, with his back to the crowd. Everyone on stage was in black and white suits and dancing in unison as Newman opened his set. The show was originally set to be played the Troubadour, but due to demand – was moved to the larger and more accommodating El Rey Theater. Still there was barely any room to stand, so it was a good thing this show got moved.
John rolled through his set with class, showmanship, he had absolute control of the audience, and had dance moves that came way out of left field. His voice has a distinct nasally, raspyness to it, and some overall stylings similar to Otis Redding, which the LA crowd ate up. When Newman got to the second single off his 2013 debut full length release Tribute, the crowd really started to get into it. “Cheating” got the crowd jumping and he rolled into the slower, piano driven “Easy”. Right after that the drummer marched in to the third single of the album “Losing Sleep”. With a wall of applause, John seemed taken aback and truly humbled with the response right before he went into “Down On Life” and “Gold Dust” to close the set. The crowd wanted more and John came back out with just a piano player and drummer for a slowed-down version of the widely popular “Not Giving In” by Rudimental. The crowd heard the hook and responded immediately. Finally as the last song had to be the current hit in the US and star off Tribute. John and crew blazed through a mesmerizing version of “Love Me Again”. There is no denying that this 23 year old Brit has incredible talent, but this live show is what really sets him apart from other indie darlings of the same vein.
John Newman (Facebook)