Pigeon-holing MAVERICK SABRE becomes increasingly more difficult as each album progresses. There are the rap-infused tones of Sometimes from 2012 debut release, Lonely Are the Brave, and too on that record is the soulful charm as demonstrated on the likes of I Need.
The clientele at his recent sold out Nottingham show enforces the suggestion that he is unable to be placed. There are the one-gig-a-year types dressed in their ‘gigging jacket’ (a Levi‘s, picked up at a thrift shop in Camden in 2009 and has since been donned for shows such as Paul Simon and George Ezra), there are the I-go-to-every-Nottingham-show types; they don’t know the majority of the tunes and haven’t even noticed that Sabre has released a new record this year, there are those who have been there since day one chanting every word back at the English/Irish genre defiant.
When Rescue Rooms is good, it is great; Maverick Sabre made it a great venue and reminded me of the brilliance of a sold out show. Fans arranging themselves in height order to watch the set from the balcony offers an insight into how much people want to catch a glimpse of some of the most recognisable songs from the past decade. Let Me Go, for example, could easily be his final song of the night if we were to curate a setlist in the traditional sense of making people wait to hear the ‘classics.’ Instead, though, it is slotted seamlessly into the set six songs in – almost Kings of Leon-esque when they just pull out Use Somebody and Sex on Fire randomly. The fans want to hear the tracks that were their first introduction to the band, and the band ‘have’ to do it, but realistically they cannot be arsed to go on a nostalgia trip.
This isn’t to suggest there’s a ‘half-arsed’ pretentiousness about Sabre; if anything he is the complete opposite. Addressing the crowd from the off, saying “it’s been about four years since I was here,” he is aware that quite a lot of people there will have missed him during that period. Equally, though, he knows that his latest record, When I Wake Up, will have brought a fair few in and gives a nod to the album by playing the likes of Preach, Drifting and Her Grace with both passion and precision.
Chopping things up the mid-way through to appeal more to the I-go-to-every-Nottingham-show types with a medley featuring Craig David and Usher shows his likability, but simultaneously demonstrates his ability to keep things exciting for those who have parted with their £15. Working out at £1 per song played, the show journeys through the tracks that projected Sabre into the spotlight all those years ago; I Used To Have It All and I Can Never Be, for example – before Sabre and his band leave the stage before he returns for a solo encore.
Rhetorically asking if it is ok if he does a couple of acoustic numbers – namely Sometimes and I Need, which are naturally received with open arms by the Nottingham faithful. They, alongside Let Me Go, are the tracks most recognisable and people from the barrier to the bar are mouthing along to the lyrics – before the show comes to a close as the full band re-join Sabre on stage and Glory is given a sensational rendition.
As a whole, the show is an indication of Maverick Sabre being back and ready to re-breakthrough after so much time away. There are no cobwebs in the performance, but instead a burning desire to retake control of all the subcultures he seemingly nonchalantly fits.