The Water Rats Theatre kick started last week for Londonist with some stunning vocalist and singer/songwriter performances ranging from the unsigned to the recently signed.
First to the stage were My Last Mistake, whose vocals provided by Leah Newcombe absolutely blew us away. Leah hails from Kent and is slightly reminiscent of Shirley Manson in her appearance. With a beautifully dark and mellow voice she's accompanied by Richard Norton on second guitar and also the recent addition of a cellist. The band performed several of their own tracks, The Story of Us... standing out highly, and also performed good covers of the late Johnny Cash's rendition of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt and Tracy Chapman's Fast Car.
Kate Walsh from Essex was up next and at only 20 years old she's already been snapped up by Kitchenware Records, who are known for their work with great singer/songwriters. With quirky but heart felt lyrics Kate's pure voice and simple rhythms captivated the audience. You can check out her debut album 'Clocktower Park' on iTunes.
Leading the evening was the man that the Evening Standard recently tipped as next year's new Jack Johnson, Newton Faulkner. Newton is an amazingly talented and charming singer/songwriter from Surrey. His unique style of getting different sounds out of an acoustic guitar by not only using the strings but the actual body of the guitar is influenced by the late Eric Roche, whom he met whilst studying at the ACM College in Guildford.
Describing Newton's music is incredibly difficult as he covers so many styles effortlessly, from the heartfelt and mellow acoustic numbers through to the heavier ranged songs, not forgetting his emotional rendition of the impossible to cover Teardrop by Massive Attack.
It's not all serious songs with Newton though as he sneaks about on the stage and engages with the audience beautifully by telling a humorous story for each song, trying out different styles and showing off his skills at "acoustic jungle", and for the members of the audience that
have been following him for a while, he finally gave in and sang the theme tune to Spongebob Squarepants!
In-between songs we caught up with the audience and heard of the escapades at the filming of the video for Newton's recently released UFO EP
, where he sought out fans on MySpace who then skived off work to do the UFO dance for hours on end in front of the cameras.
Though Newton's most popular songs To The Light and I Need Something were amazingly well performed, the song that had us humming the next morning was Billy which he ended the evening with by setting all of the men in the audience singing the bass line, then adding the ladies in with backing vocals and slowly fading his own acoustic and vocals out.
Definitely a performance not to be missed, make sure you check out Newton's MySpace and have a listen, who knows maybe you'll be roped into his next video!
Words and photo by Rob Green