Archive for the ‘Nerina Pallot’ Tag

Nerina Pallot at Union Chapel

This was the second time I’ve been to a gig in a church. And from these experiences I’ve learnt two things. Firstly, that the acoustics are outstanding in them. But also that pews are rather uncomfortable. Yet this did not matter in the slightest last night when Nerina Pallot took to the stage. Any moans about the seating were completely irrelevant. Her voice would have cured any back pains anyone may have had.

As I entered this interesting venue, I was aware that tonight was going to be a bit different to the rest of Nerina’s tour dates. She was to have a band and choir on stage with her. Something I discovered after having been tempted by the video of the rehearsals for the show. What I did not know, however, was that there was to be another special guest joining Nerina on stage.

To support her were a duo called Braxton Hix (not to be confused with the premature contractions) whose voices suited the venue rather well with their almost folk-like music s using the acoustics to their advantage. They weren’t the most professional band, having written their setlist on a paper plate and only bringing along twenty CD’s to sell, but I think that this added to their charm. The band was made up of a male on guitar and vocals, and a woman on vocals. The main thing you need to know about this band is that either they are a couple, or the woman has spent hours perfecting her loving stare at the guy as some part of a stage act. It almost felt awkward at times, as though you were intruding on a private serenading session. But I would definitely recommend you checking them out if you’re into acoustic/folk music.

And now onto Nerina. Well, not just Nerina. This was Nerina, a drummer, a guitarist, a strings section, a horn section and a chorus. This was nothing like my previous experiences of Nerina’s live shows. Opening with solo performances of God of Small Things and If I Know You, she sat at her piano and blissfully played for us. Her voice was amazing, as expected, and it wasn’t long before she broke into the amusing banter between songs that makes her so endearing.

Idaho and Mr King followed at the same haunting calibre of music. These slower songs felt particularly powerful in the settings. Not that the more uptempo songs weren’t impressive too: the debut single from her latest album, Real Late Starter, was played beautifully. The live performance of Nickindia made me realise it’s true beauty. I like the album version, but seeing it played right in front of me made it have far more impact.

It was around this stage in the show that I noticed that her drummer kept shaking a banana along with his shaker. I’m no percussion genius and would love to know why the fruit was used…

As with Nerina’s normal musings, she amused us in her introduction to the as yet unrecorded, Put Your Hands Up. Describing it as being “camper than Christmas”, I felt I had to agree with her that it was a bit Eurovision-esque. If it were to be overly edited with electro beats it could win it for us. But I just can’t quite see Nerina entering Eurovision. The song worked live because you can here the natural vocals shine through, if it developed into the next Cheeky Girls hit I’d be slightly more worried.

Next up came a cover of Rickie Lee Jones. Skeletons is the reason that Nerina’s latest EP is titled Skeleton EP and she’s happy to admit that it’s a cover and how she wishes she’d written it herself.

Three songs from her new album followed (It Starts, Cigarette and When Did I Become Such A Bitch). The middle of those three worked hauntingly well with a choir, whilst the full band performance of the latter, accompanied by the banter about the, perhaps factual, nature of the title kept the audience entertained.

A solo performance of Everybody’s Gone To War was opted for, which intrigued me as I own a strings version and know it sounds beautiful but seeing just Nerina and her guitar strum their way through it was just as impressive. Human was then performed with Nerina and a male vocal, having these two more low-key performances could have been decided to create a more impactful entrance for the artist who was next to join Nerina on stage.

Introducing her as “really wonderful and really special and so talented” (oh, and “This week’s number one”) Diana Vickers joined Nerina and the band to perform the Nerina penned track Put It Back Together Again. Having listened to this song several times on Diana’s myspace the night before the performance I have to credit the live performance as being far more impressive. Diana’s voice is very expressive and works well to evoke the emotion that Nerina clearly wrote into the song. If you want to witness this performance with your own eyes you’ll have to check it out on this YouTube video, which was kindly uploaded later in the evening.

The full band performance of my favourite song, Geek Love, was made all the more amazing by Nerina introducing it as “a song about shagging”. I’ve never heard the song performed so well as it was then. It was truly beautiful.

The final song before Nerina departed the stage was God. It’s a song from Dear Frustrated Superstar that I was always particularly fond of. Nerina admitted she’d seldom played it live because she wanted it to sound “as it was meant to”. I can understand why she allowed for it to be performed last night. The band and choir worked in harmony to produce a beautiful song.

After a long clapping and whooping session (not that there wasn’t this after every song) Nerina returned to the stage with just the strings section to perform My Last Tango and then end with her normal final piano masterpiece: Sophia. Both piano based songs left the audience feeling dazed by everything we’d witnessed throughout the show and wanting more. It’d been three years since my last Nerina show but I’m now certain it won’t be anywhere near that long before I next get to be a part of something so outstanding.

Being the lovely lady she is, Nerina hung around after the gig for a signing and I got my two lovely new EP’s signed “To Cat”. Nerina questioned whether I wanted them both signed to me and we concluded that it is good to be selfish in life and so yes I did. She also complimented my dress making me feel less of an idiot walking around Islington in a less than casual dress.

I was not the biggest Nerina fan in that room (not that you’d know it from the amount of positive adjectives in this review) but even the ‘Die-hards’ seemed to think that it was one of the best Nerina performances they’d ever seen. I love that Nerina has such a tight fanbase. Everyone was willing to talk to oneanother and become friends throughout the evening (or afternoon for those who arrived as early as one!)

There’s little else to add (I have written over 1200 words already!) than to leave you with one word to describe the show and it’s remarkably long setlist: Outstanding.

(Photos to follow!)

Nerina Pallot

Union Chapel

April 28th 2010

Nerina Pallot – Fires

Nerina Pallot is a Jersey born, North London living, Arsenal supporting (she does have her faults!) singer songwriter. And a rather impressive one at that. I’ve seen her twice before, and already reviewed her latest album The Graduate. It’s been a few years since I last saw her and, alas, I was rather excited to here the announcement of her latest tour with a special gig at Union Chapel, London, on April 28th.

Combining my excitement for next Wednesday with the voice in my head nagging me to write something productive, I’ve decided to review Fires, Pallot’s second album.

It starts with her biggest hit. Everybody’s Gone To War can probably be described as one of the most literal songs that Pallot’s ever penned.  (Oh, on a side note, Pallot’s been busy sharing her song-writing talents of late, writing for Diana Vickers, but, more importantly, writing for Kylie Minogue including the title track of her new album!) It’s a bit political –which I like. “If love is a drug/I guess we’re all sober” which later progresses to become “If God’s on our side then God is a Joker/Asleep on the job his children fall over”. Her use of metaphor is incredible. So simple, and yet so powerful. And how does it end? With the scarily simple line “I’ve got a friend who’s a pure bread killing machine/I think he might be dead by Christmas”. Truly thought provoking.

 Pallot often writes about the most mundane things, turning them into something of beauty. In Halfway Home this is evident – “I’ve got a quarter in my pocket of an apple left to eat”. I love the vocals on the chorus. They sound so effortless, and yet they are sung in a key that I would be scared to ever attempt.

Next up come two songs of outstanding quality: Damascus and Idaho both flow with beautiful narratives that sound so heartfelt. The former sounds harsher, with the odd expletive thrown in for effect. And it works, so I’m not complaining. The latter has an incredibly catchy piano intro that immediately tells you it’s going to be something sublime.

I’ll gloss over Learning To Breathe – it’s not that I don’t like it. I do. I just think Pallot has a lot of better songs.

I never really liked Mr King until I saw it on one of Pallot’s Monday night live streamed shows. It changed the song for me. The simplicity of the guitar combined with the direct vocals just suddenly clicked for me. Whoever this ‘Mr King’ is, I hope he is impressed with this piece of art. It’s beautiful.

Geek Love. What a song. I’ve not listened to it much of late. But wow. It’s my favourite Pallot track. It’s also my friend Bryony’s favourite track (she’s even got herself a Geek Love tshirt). We’re both hoping it’ll make an appearance next week. I’m not sure what it is about this song. The lyrics to the verses and the chorus are so perfectly written for the mood of the music and the many messages of the song. It’s even got a bit that repeats the word “grey”. Three times. I love grey. But I love Geek Love more.

The piano in Sophia makes the song. Sure, the metaphors of the “fire escape symphony” are very clever. But it’s the piano that makes it haunting in places. It carries the lyrics along. I just can’t see it working with any other instrument as well as it does with just the vocals and the piano.

All Good People is a song that never stood out for me. The album version sounds a little too electronic for my liking, however live performances are far more favourable.  It’s the same with Heart Attack. It’s just not my favourite style of Pallot’s.

Ending with Nickindia, Pallot returns to her more simplistic style. Her vocals shine this way. There’s a “ooh” that I love. It hits several notes that (despite many, many attempts) I just cannot hit. It’s slow paced, and it just works.

I’m sorry for the empty adjectives that I’ve used throughout this piece. If you wanted, I could write even more about each track. But even those of you who’ve made it this far would probably draw a line at a word-by-word analysis of each song! So I’ll leave you with one word to describe Fires: Beautiful.

March.

I know you've probably seen this before. But it was a highlight of March.

As it’s the end of the month and I can’t be bothered to write anything good, I thought you might enjoy an insight into the goings on within my mundane little life. Let me begin with a cliché: this month has flown by. I’ve actually done quite a bit this month come to think of it, but in about six hours it shall be over.

March was a month of busy Thursdays. First up was the Lisa Mitchell gig that was very much enjoyed. The following week I was out with the father at La Dolce Vita (which was rather lame), however it was followed by the most amazing rib of beef at Bouchon Breton so all is forgiven.

The next week brought with it my sister’s 16th which was celebrated with a family meal in… Shoreditch. I’ve never heard of anyone going on a family outing to Shoreditch, but we did. And it resulted in a delicious meal at Beach Blanket Babylon. Their duck, mash and green beans were amazing. I’m not always a huge advocate of duck when it’s not Peking. I’ve been fortunate enough to try some of the most amazing Peking Duck in Hong Kong and I often find the breast itself too bland without being cooked this way. This was not the case with the offering of BBB which was succulent and generously surrounded by a hoisin sauce, providing me with the hint of the Chinese flavour that I love so much.

This brings us to last week where I had two exciting events. Tuesday was the day of Paloma Faith’s gig at the Corn Exchange, whilst Thursday was the highlight of my life so far the Bran Nue Dae screening. Both were very pleasant though it was obviously the latter that brought me more excitement.

What else have I learnt this month? Well, I learnt that I like jewellery. If you were a part of the 200+ page views that I got over Sunday and Monday then I’m sure you’re already aware of this. I passed my driving test this month and can finally drive Kylie (Yes, my car has a name linked to my love of Neighbours. Get over it.) without those L Plates drawing attention to my regular failed parking attempts.

As for April? Well I’ve got tickets to two gigs already – starting with Amy Macdonald this Tuesday thanks to teentoday.co.uk. Then towards the end of the month I finally get to see Nerina Pallot again after a three year hiatus (last time resulted in me missing the last train home from Tottenham Hale!) I’ve got two days at Channel 4 as part of Inspiration Week in the holidays which I’m really looking forward to and shall inevitably use as an opportunity to network and promote my blog/Teen Today. Oh, and Venice next Thursday for a few nights en famille before I return to school for that dreaded French Oral. But let’s not spend any more time dwelling on that…. Tell me, how’s your March been?! (That means comment. I don’t bite. Promise.)

Nerina Pallot – The Graduate

Do you remember that advert from a couple of years ago? A girl in a supermarket, singing about war, food flying everywhere? That girl was called Nerina Pallot. The song? Everybody’s gone to war.

Back then Nerina’s record company must have been on some sort of publicity drive as I swear I was always seeing the ad in between whatever I used to watch 4 years ago. This publicity push must have greatly influenced me as I went to HMV (it was back in the days of CD buying you see) and bought her album Fires. From then on, I was in love.

Not only did I repeatedly listen to Fires, I bought Nerina’s back catalogue. I discovered the beauty of Blood is Blood from her debut album and found ways of hearing unreleased material like the beautiful Heidi. I saw her live twice; I even met her once. Not without it’s difficulties though. Apparently I’d unwittingly bought a ticket to an over 18 gig. As a 15 year old who barely looked her age, I was a little stumped at being asked for ID. Fortunately, with a little bit of crying from my friend, we were allowed in and were treated to a stunning performance, topped off only by meeting the lovely lady at the end of the night. And subsequently missing the last train home, paying for a taxi from Tottenham Hale to Bishops Stortford.

Anyway, Nerina has a new(ish) album. The Graduate. Perhaps the title has been chosen to show the progression in Nerina’s music. Perhaps it’s far simpler than that and is to do with her recently obtaining a degree. I’ll let you decide that one yourself. Looking past the title, each song is full of equally sublime content.

The first single Real Late Starter is upbeat, contrasting to some of the singles from her last album. Whilst Fires brought us the sombre Sophia and Idaho, this album opts for some brighter tones. The humorously named When did I become such a bitch? was written, perhaps autobiographically, by Nerina after Fires release and immediately became a favourite at live performances.

My personal favourite would have to be Coming Home. It’s truly heartfelt. The story of a father/daughter relationship; she sings “I’ll make you proud one day/but I know you’ll love me anyway” and you can tell that this isn’t a song full of over exaggeration and embellishments. It’s her life she’s singing about. And she does know how to sing about it well. Whilst I’m yet to see a live performance of this song, I’ve been told it’s something that should not be missed.

In English Nerina sings of the faults of our nation. Being born and bred in Jersey, Nerina clearly loves her homeland a little more than in our country, apparently full of “hatred and bigotry”. Her voice shines in this slower song. Not that I’m saying it doesn’t in others. I’m just a sucker for the more depressing songs. God of Small Things has a similar tempo which I enjoyed. Whilst the chorus of Junebug knows how to make me smile.

The catchy I don’t want to go out has even prompted a series of live Monday night streamings of mini-gigs from Nerina’s lounge. They can be viewed, for free, at http://www.ustream.tv/nerinapallot Monday nights at 9pm GMT.

As my entirely non-biased review has shown, I’m a little bit fond of Nerina’s music. She knows how to write a quality song whilst being able to sing it equally impressively. If you’ve not heard of her, then you are definitely missing out. Check her out on twitter @ladychatterley and then be sure to download something of hers!