Review: Midnight/Mike Hughes, Sheffield Cathedral

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Midnight/Mike Hughes, Sheffield Cathedral

EVEN the city’s largest place of worship became a Tramlines venue with an acoustic line-up to soothe those wanting to escape the rest of the city centre.

Former Milburn frontman Joe Carnall opened the schedule to showcase his latest project, Midnight. The acoustics served him well as his solemn guitar notes echoed and bounced against the walls to his deep castigating voice. His newest outfit may not pack as much of a punch as his previous guises but Carnall’s talent for engaging, rasping lines still shone through.

Like a mid-afternoon service, for the build-up to the next act the only sound to be heard was idle chatter until Mike Hughes’ evocative, rising voice demanded full attention. Mindful of his language in a house of God and armed only with an acoustic guitar, Hughes’ preaching, pleading vocals seemed wholly appropriate. At times he allowed his six-string to take the plaudits with a winsome brand of subtle guitar playing only for his commanding voice to take over soon enough.

In such a venue with such breaking news as the untimely death of Amy Winehouse it became easy to reflect, a fact acknowledged by Hughes himself. He closed on the now especially poignant The Girl In The Clocktower, a track where Hughes’ gift for intelligent flowing verse was just as loud as his enveloping voice.

Such songwriting craft goes easily unnoticed but when it’s so soulfully presented, it becomes difficult to ignore.

Omar Soliman