Sunday, February 14, 2016
Nathan Carter Live in Dublin (The Helix 14 Feb 2016)
Its back to the future with this hunk of burning man talent At times its hard to decide whether Nathan Carter wants to be a worldwide star or if he’s just a handsome lucky young guy, thrust into the spotlight in a live Irish and UK music scene that has become complacent , dull and starved of fun and sex appeal. Cool rock acts and introspective singer songwriters may garner plenty of critical acclaim and even supply us with the odd classic record but, as many music venue owners and record company executives have discovered to their cost in recent years, only the very biggest of them manage to put bums on seats on a regular basis and even then only on the odd national or world tour. With Nathan Carter, its very much back to the future in terms of his decidedly old fashioned road to fame, a regular gigging now suddenly superstar big name act, prepared to tour more or less constantly, play big and smaller venues, make slick often pop inspired country/folk records, who looks good and is not uncomfortable appealing equally to a young and older female fan base and even a few straight and gay men thrown in for good measure. The result, a now massive and diverse fan base, ever increasing CD sales and sell out gigs wherever he plays. Throw in a solid talented backing band and it’s a recipe for good old fashioned success. This is Nashville meets the Showband & Ballad boom era with a touch of modern smouldering sex appeal thrown in, this guy can simply do no wrong at present. Gradually attracting the same packed houses in cities like Dublin and Cork as he has been getting for over 5 years in more rural venues and slowly building a significant UK fan base too, his sold out Helix show (the first of 2, a second date in March has already sold out) was another milestone gig for the clearly ambitious 25 year old star. More all round entertainer than pure country and western this handsome guy has a really interesting evocative voice which remains largely untested to date by the often safe carefully selected material. This has been changing albeit slowly with his current Decca (Universal) record company. While his recordings to date have been largely composed of tried and tested classic Irish and International country and pop hits from the past, if Nathan Carter is to have significant international success and genuine longevity he needs to start recording more original material. Meanwhile for now his audiences particularly in Ireland, cant seem to get enough of his brand of energetic nostalgia mixed with slick well devised performances and more than a little on stage sexual energy. Particularly effective in his Helix show was the wise focus on his strong vocals, his skills as a musician (Carter is a talented pianist and accordion player in his own right) and the experienced band which gives Carter a slick international sound. Far more impressive live than his more stage managed occasionally slightly uncomfortable TV appearances would suggest, this is a performer with a very bright future if he is prepared to slowly take a few more risks with his material. His performance style, sometimes reminiscent of an early Elvis exhibits an understated but still obvious sexual energy which , means various female underwear regularly thrown on stage and hit songs with lyrics about women getting drunk on tequila and stripping off ‘for fun‘. Clearly this guy know exactly what he is doing and where he wants to take his already successful career but there is also some solid talent to reckon with here, Nathan Carter is more than just a pretty face. Particular highlights at the Helix were a soaring interpretations of classics such as ‘The town I loved so well’ & ‘Caledonia‘, his own hit album track ‘Beautiful life’ and an effective intimate solo set with just Nathan & a white baby grand piano, where he really connects with his live audience. His signature smash hit ‘Wagon wheel’ opens the inevitable encore set which ends in a frenzy of Nathan worship to rival the stars of Country’s (and Pop’s) golden era. This is a performer who is old fashioned in many ways yet packaged perfectly for the modern world and whose real strength lies in the fact that he isn’t afraid to be sexy, open and genuinely entertaining. His cooler but much duller contemporaries and wannabe pop impresarios (yes POP impresarios) should take a good look at the reaction of his female fans, who as one twenty something devotee remarked to me at the interval, at last have a man they can fancy as well as listen to.