John Paul White and Lyla Foy – 27th January 2019 – Gateshead Sage
Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)
John Paul White, a musician in his own right, but also known for his part in the musical duo The Civil Wars returned to Gateshead Sage for the third time and first time as a solo act. We were in for a stripped back acoustic treat and the audience could not have been any more appreciative.
Arkansas Dave kicked off the night interestingly in a different room to where the rest of the performances were held. Bringing a livelier and louder affair to the Northern Rock Hall. On hearing and seeing what was happening it made sense. Arkansas Dave had a full band with him and they belted out big sounds that had the room stomping their feet, which was a huge contrast to the next few hours ahead.
Lyla Foy was the main support for this whole tour with John Paul White and the audience gathered over to Hall 2 for the rest of the night. For those familiar with Lyla, what normally backs her music on stage is an electric guitar and keyboards, though as she took to the stage what was before us was a small keyboard and an acoustic guitar. If this was your first time seeing this ‘sub-pop’ artist then this was just as new for you as it was for those familiar with her material and it was, in simple terms, stunningly breathtaking. I have seen Lyla a number of times but this night it was like a whole new Lyla Foy was forming in front of me and the audience were also on her side that unless prompted to talk they were hanging on to her every word until her last note.
With a very quick changeover of ten minutes the audience gave a rapturous applause as John Paul White stepped onto the stage to kick off the night with new song, ‘I Wish I Could Write You A Song’. He stands centre stage throughout the night with just his guitar, he needs nothing more to make this show any more powerful than it is. The crowd is silent and there are a few tears being wiped from the outset, probably just as much as his kids felt when he sings of his love/hate relationship being on the road away from them with ‘The Long Way Home.’ As if the night could not make you tearier, he then performs ‘James’ which was inspired by Glen Campbell but written for his father.
He tells us of his upcoming release which is, he jokes, is of course called ‘The Hurting Kind,’ which sends a laugh throughout the audience. That is what is noticeable with John Paul. He can break our hearts and have us crying with his deliverance but he then comforts us in between the songs with this chat that has us laughing. What a character he is. He also later quips that a request came in for ‘Hey Jude,’ and you could ‘feel the pain’ from the audience but luckily it was a joke and he actually gives us a cover of the Dan Seals, ‘Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold,’ which also subconsciously made him the artist he is today rather than the rocker he dreamed of being. Another cover comes at the end of the night with ‘Can’t Get You Outta My Head,’ from his favourite band ELO which gets a nod of approval from the crowd and a rapturous applause once again and with a few screams leads for him to return to the stage for a finale with ‘This Life,’ a special kind of John Paul White love song.
John Paul White gave us everything and the audience of Sage 2 could not have been more perfect. In fact, he says we are “so sweet and quiet, (and does) not take it for granted…it’s actually quite terrifying.” As a gig-goer, when I am at these kind of gigs, this is all I could ever want. Though there was one thing missing for me personally. John Paul gave his support act Lyla Foy a shout out as they happen to duet on a song on her latest album, Bigger Brighter, called ‘Bring Flowers’. I am unsure how many people knew of this prior to the gig, but I knew and when it was mentioned I thought we were going to see it brought to life with both of them on stage but it wasn’t to be. It would have been a perfect addition to a perfect night, so maybe one day it will be.
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