Nerina Pallot, and Taylor & Marie at Norwich Arts Centre, 18 October 2014. Review and photos by Richard Shashamane
I’ve not really heard much by Nerina Pallot before but she came highly recommended to me by Steve Howlett of Grapevine @ Bedfords, who was sure I’d love her. It turns out he was right. She was supported by the duo Taylor & Marie (Sam Taylor also being guitarist in Nerina’s band). I arrived just as they were about to start their set which was beautiful with a strong 60s melodic American folk vibe and outstandingly gorgeous harmonies. Both of them, Sam and Jodie, strong vocalists and sharing guitar duties with Sam also playing occasional banjo and harmonica. I liked them a lot, their set was flawlessly performed and had a pleasing variety in tempo and mood. Amongst the highlights for me was the song about being moved on and needing a place to stay, and set closer with the moving intro story, Dink’s Song (Fare Thee Well), a song which bought them close together as a couple when they heard it together during a Coen Brothers film. They also played a cover of Bad Moon Rising but I think it was their own compositions I enjoyed most of all.
Onto Nerina Pallot, who I was interested to hear as I take Steve’s recommendations seriously. She came onstage, sat at the piano without a word and launched into a couple of powerfully and emotively performed songs but after this there was no stopping her onstage chattiness and engagement with the audience. This was totally charming, utterly unforced and very natural and likeable. As it turned out she played a blinder of a beautiful set which made one love her music, but we also felt we had gotten to know her as a person and made a friend.
Conversation between her and the audience (and even the band) flowed throughout the evening but never once got in the way of the songs, most of which are clearly deeply personal. Giving background to some of them by way of introduction she was explaining the dark nature of some of them but also her light-hearted attitude to life, which given her quick and beaming smile is not something one could argue with. She then added “Where would we be without fun and laughter?” One wag in the audience replied quick as a flash “Ipswich!” to much laughter. It was that kind of evening, gentle humour and a real coming together of souls, everyone in the (full) room smiling throughout.
She certainly has the songs to back all of this up though, playing for close to two hours with the standard never dropping once, I actually felt the set got stronger as the evening went on. She even tried playing as much as she could remember of a song she hadn’t played in a decade to honour a request from the crowd. I’m sure she’d have played even longer if she hadn’t been (in her own words) “In desperate need of a pee”. A lovely set with plenty of variety in tempo, mood and natural, friendly conversation and I think everyone fell in love with Nerina and her unique world.
She is currently on tour but also well into a project of releasing an EP a month for a year, as evidenced by the largest collection of CDs I think I’ve ever seen on a merch table. I think I’d have liked to buy the lot, not only for the music but also for the gorgeous artwork on them.
Apparently it was five years since her previous visit to the city, she looked like she loved it here and promised to not leave it so long next time. I shall endeavor to make it to her next visit here too.
Many thanks to Norwich Arts Centre, and to Steve Howlett for bringing more great music to my attention, and in such a lovely venue too.
Words and photos, richard shashamane (c) 2014 all rights reserved. Photos not to be used without permission.