Enigmatic troubadour Ethan Barnett delivers a statesmanlike performance at his sold-out Nottingham show.
Such is the nature of the fickle fiend that is the music industry nowadays that we find ourselves in dire need of musicians that naturally exude some taste for artistic integrity and flair. The market price for British born singer-songwriters who manage to portray an element of domesticity and serenity has risen exponentially in recent years as the likes of Ed Sheeran, James Bay and George Ezra have firmly cemented their status as everybody’s Nan’s favourite pop stars.
Over the past two years a new name has been slowly making its way up the ladder, gaining the support of radio behemoths and the grassroots alike. And for George Ezra fans, they didn’t have to look far from home. Ethan Barnett, otherwise known as Ten Tonnes, is the fresh-faced younger brother of the prolific hitmaker and, if his recently released self-titled debut record is anything to go by, he’ll be joining his older brother at the top of festival bills in the not-so-distant future.
Having embarked on an eight-date tour a few days ago, Barnett stopped off in Nottingham for the second leg of the tour, just six days after the release of his blissful and breezy debut record. Ahead of his sold-out show at Rescue Rooms, an air of anticipation and excitement swept around the bustling venue. But from the moment he stepped onto the stage at a prompt 9pm, all doubts were cast aside for what was an exhilarating ride of emotions.
Kicking proceedings off with 2017 hit Born to Lose, the prodigal son of wholesome entertainment orchestrated his crowd with the deft flick of his guitar-wielding hand. As Cracks Between established the core structure of what soon became a perpetual and all-encompassing mosh pit of flailing limbs and battered bodies, Barnett’s debut record was on full display that evening. He launched gleefully into the likes of raucous track Too Late, mass singalong anthem G.I.V.E, sugar-coated Wake Up and the surprisingly expletive Look What You Started, a single that almost had its audience revising their image of the golden-hearted junior of a high-profiled older brother.
As the young troubadour launched into the spiralling Lay It On Me, listeners were almost given a quick moment to reflect, amidst the chaos of the crowd, on the softly spoken gentleman that was transitioning into a wry smiling heartthrob before our very eyes. Whilst comparisons to older brother George start to become tedious, instantaneous moments of similarity engrave themselves into your mind, as he politely thanked the crowd for the second time in as many minutes. Whilst his set was a breathtaking bundle of energy, the wholesome persona of Barnett is intertwined into the core fabric of his music. On most tracks, he’s delightfully sweet. But on tracks like Wake Up for instance, he possesses a songwriting ability with a honeyed charm, capable of bringing even the sweetest of listeners to toothache.
Whilst the set subsided with Love Me To Death, a delicate acoustic offering ranging back to his Born To Lose EP, audience members had the opportunity to get much needed air into their lungs and enjoy a man very much in love with his craft. The respite was short-lived however as the pulsating Counting Down kicked life back into the crowd with very little resistance. As Nights In, Nights Out lent into the enigmatic Silver Heat, another early release but one of the highlights of the album, the gentle giant urged the crowd for every last drop of emotion, sweat and energy.
Ending the night with fan favourites Better Than Me and Lucy, it was hard not to be impressed with the professionalism and boundless energy of the show. As crowds slowly dispersed and the sweat dissipated from the sauna of the main room into the cold May night, Ethan Barnett etched his name into the hearts and minds of everyone that saw him. What happened during that show was something special and rarely seen in Rescue Rooms.
It was raw. It was exciting. It was a set made for sweaty rooms teaming with big crowds, and it is an underestimated talent to pull off shows of this spectacle. The sheer accessibility of his sound, with its easy-going lull, naturally makes people question how Barnett can spark a fervent live performance, yet he breathed an abundance of life into an album that was already filled to the brim with energy. It took George Ezra five years to become the beating heart of our wholesome nation. With more dynamism than his older brother, don’t be surprised to see Ten Tonnes shoot for the stars in the coming years.