James Holt : Manchester Deaf Institute October 4th, 2019

A regular face on the Manchester live scene, Boltonian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter extraordinaire James Holt played his biggest headline show to date at Manchester’s stunning Deaf Institute and provided a packed night of entertainment. 

First up was Felix Hill, a 17-year-old who played an enthusiastic set that showed promise. An appreciative crowd were already there -many clearly friends of the young frontman -but only really come alive during the set’s two covers.

The first, Twist and Shout, was pointless and didn’t really reflect the freshness of the band, but the set closer of When the Sun Goes Down gave those assembled a chance to pretend they were watching a major group. It’s a shame they couldn’t muster the same enthusiasm for the original songs. 

Also on the bill was another youngster, Tom Mouse Smith. Not even 16, this lad showed he had balls of steel and an attitude to match. His own compositions may not be as memorable as his version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, but you can’t fault his talent and drive. 

By the time James Holt took to the stage, the room was packed. We all know this guy has great songs and can command a crowd when playing solo, but tonight we have the full band experience so the tunes are elevated beyond the grandness of the recorded versions. 

Blasting into the latest single Little Green Light, not even a rogue electrical sound and noisy pedal can phase Holt’s irresistible charm. It’s hard not to smile along with his unassuming banter between songs and marvel at his wise-beyond-his-years lyrics, not to mention his taste in shirts. It won’t be long before the rest of the country -nay, world -will wise up to James Holt’s brand of melody and power.

???? Credit : Martin Unsworth