Review: Josef Salvat @ Manchester’s GORILLA
April 21, 2016
As far as male pop artists go, Australian singer Josef Salvat is an interesting act, having emerged in the last few years. He’s began 2016 by releasing his debut album, Night Swim, a collection as catchy as it is lyrically enchanting. He’s also embarked on the UK leg of his tour, reaching Manchester on March 6th. For this date, Salvat performed at Gorilla, a small venue near Oxford Road station. It’s an inspired choice, sporting a cosy bar area for pre/post-concert drinks and a concert space intimate enough to make any performance feel special.
Salvat’s support act, solo guitarist The Half Earth, was just as intimate as the venue. His chilled and beautifully simplistic songs made the most of the relaxed vibe of the concert space to captivate its audience. His voice is angelic, if not a little difficult to understand at times, but in tandem with his style of music it works. The standout moment of the set was ‘Boys’, a classic rock track which The Half Earth pulled off with ease. If his music wasn’t charming, his mid-set chatter surely was: “How are you all? I’m hungover!” he reveals without a hint of regret, his attitude as endearing as his voice.
Speaking of endearing, it was time to hear Josef Salvat’s own set. He entered to ‘Night Swim’, a song atmospheric enough to captivate the room yet controlled to the point where it feels soothing. His voice was pleasant and smooth, maintaining a constant level of clarity which highlights the lyrical content. His quirky movements on stage were at best adorably cocky, and at worst a little uncomfortable. There’s no denying he has a charismatic stage presence though.
The strength of the set list is what truly elevated the quality of the show. There was a constant variety in sound and lyrical content, and it made the set’s flow all the more satisfying. At one point, Josef Salvat played ‘Secret’ and ‘In The Audience’, two lyrically honest and beautifully presented songs he wrote as an attempt to explain to an ex-lover how they weren’t working out. In contrast, he followed this up with audience favourite ‘Hustler’, an upfront and charming ode to sex. Salvat’s ability to slide easily from one song to the next was truly wonderful.
There were plenty of pop gems on offer throughout the evening. ‘Open Season’ was a particular highlight, taking his smooth vocal style and his excellent penchant for fun tunes and unleashing it at its maximum potential. Meanwhile, his cover of Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ fit in so well with the rest of his set it almost felt as if the track was always his to begin with. There were no dips in the set, and it’s all because the set list was cohesive yet varied.
So what were the main things to take away from the concert? First, Josef Salvat has a brilliant voice. It’s enchanting, balancing constant clarity with a captivating tone. Second, he has a strong collection of songs, frequently moving from up-tempo to slowed-down, from honest to light-hearted, all with ease. Finally, he’s a charming performer. While his on-stage moves can be a little awkward, they’re also endearing enough to keep all eyes on him. A solid performance, memorable music and an excellent venue ensured the gig was enjoyable from start to finish.