There was never any question we’d go to see Moses Sumney’s first Brighton show. His debut album Aromanticism, released in September, is a remarkable literary effort from a writer and composer who shot straight to our highest estimations. The question was always going to be how he would translate an album which we called “exquisitely composed” into a live performance – although anyone in the crowd last Monday will tell you, we needn’t have worried.

A hush fell over the candlelit tables as Sumney’s guitarist took to the stage with a loop pedal for the opener ‘Self-Help Tape’. Harp-like, airy and ethereal, he set the scene for Sumney to walk out and begin his winding and ghostly lyrics. Although not an exaggerated performer, Sumney had a quiet command of the stage as the room hung on his every note. The softened, almost folk-infused soul of this track is typical of the album, which situates itself between the waking and dreaming world. It built to a chugging climax before breaking to the downtempo sway of ‘Don’t Bother Calling’, and both Sumney and the crowd settled into the show.

All it took were four different microphones and a loop pedal, plus his guitar and sax player, for Sumney to straddle a huge range of sounds. From the unadorned natural clarity of his voice in ‘Indulge Me’, to the elaborate rolling harmonies of ‘Lonely World’, to the old soul exertions of ‘Make Out In My Car’ – where he also sang along to a Zappa-style jazz guitar solo – he displayed the invention and imagination in his singing that makes him absolutely unique.

While some of the nuances of the album were lost live – it’s a piece of work that rewards close listens and whose lyrics require some digestion – it nonetheless yielded an entirely new enjoyment in its performance. Sumney’s vocals were just as considered and wide-ranging, with some small but powerful additions: there were the achingly lingering notes of ‘Quarrel’, the sliding climaxes of ‘Don’t Bother Calling’, the raw emotion of his Bjork cover and the stripped back, whispered confessions of ‘Plastic’. It must be a challenge to replicate an album so exquisitely put together – ultimately he not only replicated, but refreshed the recordings, giving us something new with a mixture of ingenuity and pure passion.

His work with the loop pedal was excellent. Aside from unlocking a breathtaking array of vocal possibilities, he used it to emphasise the tension that hangs over much of the album, playing with crescendo and catch-and-release drama, using his voice as a many-layered instrument. He would tap percussion on his own microphone, as in ‘Doomed’ (which has no drumbeat on the album), or his final number ‘Everlasting Sigh’. This last song, an earlier release, saw him act as a one-man-band, building up the song from nothing with his hands, fingers and voice. He ended on an uplifting climactic note, which was amazing to watch, performing vocal riffs off the audience’s claps, then clicks.

His standing ovation was well deserved, as he confirmed the suspicions aroused by his album: Sumney is a rare talent, his flawless songwriting compounded by an instinct for an arresting live show. He can’t come back to Brighton soon enough.

Ben Noble