Live Review | Native Oak & The Youngest Old Man @ Whiskers, Newquay

By Adam Guy

In the one year that it’s been open Whiskers has seemingly come from out of nowhere to become one of the best live music venues in Newquay. Part of what makes it stand out from the crowd is the variety of different acts that perform there, and this has rarely been more apparent than when Native Oak and The Youngest Old Man performed their intimate gig.

Instead of using the usual stage area where all other acts have performed, the choice was made to use the long thin back section affectionately know as the “Nook”. This smaller enclosed area had cushions scattered across the floor to encourage seating, and provided a quiet space that felt like a bit of a novelty in a town like Newquay.

Of the two acts The Youngest old Man performed first. Fresh to the scene and currently recording his debut album, he describes his music as “Folky and down-to-earth, reflecting an emotional connection with the physical, elemental world.” Unassuming, softly spoken, and instantly likeable, his personality and sound seemed to fit the setting perfectly. His melodic finger-picking and storyteller lyrics work well with his controlled and restrained vocals. The feeling that he’s still in the process of perfecting his own sound left the sense that he definitely has more to give and that he’s an act worth keeping an eye on.

The second musician, Native Oak, is a singer songwriter from Ireland. With a looser and more emotionally charged sound he proved to be a surprising contrast to the act he followed. Drawing influences from both folk and blues he switched from an acoustic to electric guitar during the set. This combined with a voice that moved between moments of quiet mumbling all the way to what Native Oak himself refers to as a “harmonising roar” created an unusual sound that forced all those listening to take notice.

All in all, the night proved to be intimate and refreshing. Both acts had a sound worth hearing, and with all available seating space taken up the audience were surprisingly relaxed and attentive, and almost everyone there seemed to enjoy what felt like something of a shared experience.