Novo Amor - New Century Hall, Manchester

Novo Amor - New Century Hall, Manchester

In the heart of Manchester City centre, a queue forms outside the New Century Hall. Some have been here for most of the day, whilst others are just arriving, ready for an emotional night of folk-pop from the fantastic Ali John Meredith-Lacey; better known by his stage name ‘Novo Amor’. Rising to fame in 2014, ‘Novo Amor’ have continued to release multiple EP’s and Albums which tug at the heart strings but also inspire hope. Tonight, surrounded by a touring band, Lacey brings the music to life in front of 1,300 people. 

As lights dim on a stage heavily filled with smoke, a spotlight appears. In the column of light stands a single figure with an acoustic guitar. That figure is Ed Tullet, also known as ‘Lowswimmer’. 

Evident from the outset, Tullet is a talented song writer. His lyrics flow across the crowd, backed by the chords and strumming of an acoustic guitar. Whilst Tullet may be performing under the name ‘Lowswimmer’, he also plays songs from his other projects including ‘Labradors’ by ‘Hailaker’; a song that goes down well with the crowd. 

Although there’s not much movement from the stage, there’s no issue as the crowd absorb Tullet’s melodic voice; taking the time to digest every word that is sung. As ‘Lowswimmer’s’ set draws to a close, the room fills with applause, followed by a louder cheer when Tullet announces he will be back within the next half hour to perform with ‘Novo Amor’. As the house lights go up, the room fills with chatter about ‘Lowswimmer’ and how good the performance was. It’s safe to say ‘Lowswimmer' is about to receive a collection of new fans.

As the ever-changing coloured bulbs that fill the ceiling begin to go down, a silence falls across the crowd. There are eager fans in the front row holding signs, somehow managing to contain themselves as an intro track begins to play. Soon the band members take to the stage, followed lastly by Lacey. ‘Novo Amor’ is here and ready to transport the crowd to a new soundscape. The first chords are played and Lacey’s haunting vocals fill the room. The crowd falls silent, with eager eyes watching the stage as the band perform ‘First Place’; a new song from their recently released album ‘Collapse List’. 

Lacey and the rest of the band are all talented musicians in their own right. Throughout the set they are constantly changing between various instruments. By the second song, Lacey has already moved from guitar to playing the electric piano as they work their way through ‘Same Day, Same Face’. It is impressive to see a band perform in this way and keeps things fresh and exciting. It also shows off a level of musical capability some artists can only dream to achieve. As the piano-led song continues, screens at the back of the stage light up with various scenes playing out, adding to the atmosphere of the room. Bass lines produce rhythm and the drums boost the build-ups whilst at no point drown out or overpower the rest of the band. 

After a few songs, Lacey announces he’s asked chat GPT for some on-stage banter, reading out the response from his phone. “I don’t really have anything to say, but I am happy to be here” he remarks to the audience, followed by laughter. Then the set continues. Although the tour is in support of the new album, it’s not all new music. Dotted throughout the massive 20 song set are older songs from across the musician’s discography. These are the songs that the crowd are far more familiar with and encourage quiet sing-alongs. It should be noted that although the crowd is fairly quiet, it’s not because they don’t enjoy the music, it’s simply because they are captivated by the performance in front of them. These aren’t songs that inspire sing alongs, but songs that allow the crowd to feel a variety of emotions and get lost in the music and visual displays. 

Mid-set we are treated to a solo performance of ‘Anchor’; one of ‘Novo Amor’s’ most popular songs. It’s an emotional moment, made more so by the change from acoustic guitar to electric piano; Lacey's vocals leaving the stage and washing over the crowd. As the song builds to its powerful ending, many join in to sing out the final chorus. It feels like a special moment seeing a song such as this played to a room full of people. At times raising the hair on the back of your neck, whilst other moments are bittersweet. It’s songs like this that explain the couple-heavy room tonight; a song that has no doubt featured on multiple lovers’ playlists and mix tapes.

As we move towards the final few songs, Lacey takes a quick break to interact with the crowd, jokingly asking if anyone has any questions before having a brief conversation with an audience member. “It’s funny, I think I’m probably one of the only people in the room who can actually hear you.” He laughs. 

Playing such a huge set is a difficult task for any band but ‘Novo Amor’ take the challenge in their stride and play through it with ease. It's been a night of ethereal tones and emotive lyrics, moments of sadness brought back up with words of hope; times of pure bliss and times filled with love and care; a truly unique and remarkable night. As the final notes ring out and the multicoloured lights across the ceiling come back on, fans begin to discuss what they’ve witnessed tonight; a night that will no doubt stay in the memories of many who came to watch the show.