REVIEW: Meilyr Jones, The Cluny 2, Newcastle

Meilyr Jones's last visit to Tyneside came last November, when he opened a stunning Richard Hawley show in Hall One of The Sage.
Meilyr JonesMeilyr Jones
Meilyr Jones

Monday night’s return at The Cluny 2 was, it’s fair to say, a rather different proposition, and at face value represented a return to reality for the former Race Horses man.

Yet what this show lacked in prestige was more than made up for by the 29-year-old Welshman’s performance, which even in the absence of a support act made for a thoroughly worthwhile evening.

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Jones’s profile has in fact grown since that date last year, due largely to the release of his debut album 2013 – one of 2016’s finest thus far.

Packed with handsome chamber pop gems, the LP has been met with almost universal acclaim, and for this writer is a decent outside bet for this year’s Mercury Prize.

Sadly, this is yet to translate into any serious record or ticket sales, and even on a bank holiday The Cluny’s basement venue was far from full.

This, though, did nothing to faze the singer, who along with his four-piece band, delighted those assembled with a marvellous 50-minute showing.

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An awkward yet potent presence, his performances evoke forebears from across the indie spectrum, incorporating elements of everything from Jarvis Cocker’s finesse to Morrissey’s outsider schtick.

Musically, meanwhile, his songs are rich with diversity, ranging from your standard guitar, drum and bass set-up to arrangements featuring synth, violins, sax, trumpet and even bongos.

These culminated in a succession of golden nuggets, including the playful stop start of Don Juan, the witty persona of Featured Artist and the beautiful intimacy of Refugees, which he elected to perform solo.

One thing which was comparable to The Sage show was the audience, who observed the quieter passages in impeccable silence.

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And that came in particularly useful during the encore, when Jones and his band delivered Be Soft without the PA; a magnificent and poignant end to an evening which proved anything but a backward step.