Review: Maverick Sabre @ Manchester Academy 2

The gig kicked off with a sedate but soulful warm-up from London artist Ceaser and Nottingham born singer/songwriter Liam Bailey.

Ceaser looked suave and sophisticated with his checked blazer, shades which never came off and a trilby, delivering smooth, pondering vocals interspersed with catchy rap lyrics.

One of the most memorable tracks was the simply titled Thomas, a song which sensitively described the loss of one of his best friends who got involved in drug gangs.

Bailey most famed for his co-written Chase and Status’ track, Blind Faith in 2011, had a slightly different approach to warming up the crowds.

With his haunting voice and poignant lyrics, he and his acoustic guitar gently swayed the audience into seduction in preparation for the Maverick himself.

There was a slightly disconcerting moment when Bailey announced the energy had dropped in the room, but quickly picked it up again when he started some banter with the crowd.

After an hour and a half of soothing support acts, Mr Maverick Sabre (AKA Michael Stafford) took to the stage.

He lured the anxious watchers in gently with a soft, lesser known song, and you could feel the anticipation was heavy, before hitting everyone with his catchier stuff.

A stand out moment, and a great way to get audiences on side and involved right at the start, was the beautiful Emotion (Ain’t Nobody), in which he encouraged everyone to sing-along to the chorus.

Sampling Chaka Khan’s 80’s classic hit Ain’t Nobody, or 2001’s talent show Popstars runner-uppers, Liberty X’s Being Nobody for the younger generation, it was a sure fire winner.

Maverick dropped gentle tracks like Hold on and Don’t Forget from his new Innerstanding album and mixed them up expertly against more well known items from his first.

Tracks like I Need and No One from his 2012 Lonely Are The Brave album, understandably went down a storm as the crowds excitedly sang along to his thoughtful lyrics.

Maverick Sabre is a well-built Hackney-born 25-year-old, brought up in Ireland and looks like he wouldn’t take any rubbish from anyone, but wow, the man can sing.

To look quickly at this young artist, you would have no idea that such a powerful, soulful voice could be released from those lungs.

Besides looking like you might not want to cross him, he is obviously soft-hearted and showed a real tender side with Mother, a shout out to everyone who loves their mums.

His songs depict true sensitivity and delicacy as he deals with issues of heartbreak, loss as well as positivity and a sense of looking forward to the future throughout his songs.

At one point his band manager even popped on stage to hand him a hot cup of honey to soothe his vocal cords, apparently a regular occurrence at his gigs.

Cue girls squealing with delight at his gentle, ‘real’ approach, a world away from the reams of performers that stand up with their alter-egos and demanding requests.

Despite performing in front of crowds of thousands of people in his career, he came across as a genuine, nice guy who you could probably take home to your mother.

Ending his set on a high with I Used To Have It All, the audience had well and truly succumbed to his crooning vocals and captivating beats but were not about to let him stop there.

He disappeared off stage to shouts and cries and a torrent of applause, as he kept his fans waiting before he returned to the stage for his final two tracks.

This time he brought with him his acoustic guitar and subtly seduced the audience once more with Sometimes, outlining his childhood growing up in East London and Ireland.

The singer-songwriter knows the recipe for a successful set, finishing on probably what is his most famous song, the exhilarating Let Me Go.

Humble and modest, he blew the audience a kiss, thanked Manchester for its hospitality – and also for not throwing bottles at him this time –  then left the stage and the audience wanting more.

Image courtesy of MaverickSabreVevo via YouTube, with thanks.

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