This Nerina Pallot article was written by Max Clemens, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
“I think we’re hanging on in the top 40 by the skin of our teeth” are words Nerina Pallot shouldn’t have to utter, especially after consistently crafting some of the finest folk-pop works of the past decade. As weeks of excitement built up to see Nerina in concert, I was surprised at the amount of “Who?” responses I had – “why doesn’t everyone know her as well as I do?” was apparently a question on a lot of the crowd’s mind during Nerina’s one-off, intimate show at London’s Scala, showcasing the majority of her newest album ‘The Sound and the Fury’.
Kicking off the fun was supporting act Kimberly Anne, coasting through self-aware yet just-as-relatable anthems of “Facebook stalking your ex” and failing New Year’s resolutions of “not sleeping with anymore dickheads”. Taking each second to hype the crowd for Nerina’s evening ahead, she brought everyone together for the room to “la la” the melody of one song, before pouring her broken heart into break-up track ‘Kind Regards.’
Kimberly Anne’s set was full of emotionally evoking songs, served broodily with a solid serving of charming sarcasm and charismatic wit throughout (not to forget her quelling any similarities to Tracy Chapman as well). Well received by the crowd, and seeming genuinely enthused to share her songs with the crowd, Kimberly Anne’s performance as ‘one girl and her guitar’ perfectly segued on to the new material Nerina had in-store.
Blasting on the stage with opening track ‘There Is a Drum’ with no introduction, the new and unfamiliar drum-laden track prompts an immediate response of attention and can’t be ignored. Nerina’s performance mirrors the aggressive foundations laid down by her new album’s very titl: it’s bold, it’s brash, it’s in your face and most of all it’s unexpected.
This new sound rarely dithers in quality either, though now having a catalogue of almost 200 songs, I could sense many fans were awaiting what Nerina might not give them. Floating through the new and the old together, bringing infectious lead single ‘Rousseau’ out in the set fairly early on, the crowd caught up and seemed on board with the limelight on the new material.
When classic fan favourites came on however, it was definitely evident in the audience, with screams, fist pumps and claps powering through the entirety of ‘Put Your Hands Up.’ Though the ultimate focus of the evening gunned towards her new album, Nerina fed back off the energy of old material, seeming to enjoy it just as much as performing her new tracks for the first time.
Vocally and charismatically, the minimal, stripped back production was made up for – but simultaneously this posed the question as to if anything bigger was even needed. Interacting with the crowd wherever possible and changing up the arrangements to some of her biggest hits as and when she feels, Nerina rewrites the rules on a typical stage show and makes it known that this night was something she felt she had to do.
In-between anecdotes of disappointingly “not winning the EuroMillions”, we see glimpses of a musician who puts so much into her art to see proportionately little return. For example, who else would sardonically introduce their biggest hit, in her case 2005’s ‘Everybody’s Gone to War’, as “Sadly, as relevant as ever”?
Ultimately, Nerina knew who she was performing for at this show – the fans sticking through from the beginning. With an extensive catalogue unfortunately mustering up only minimal attention along the way, the evening almost documented a sense of struggle throughout each phase of her career. In turn, while there may not have been any new fans won over in the crowd, the Nerina the audience knew and loved was uninterrupted for her final track ‘Sophia,’ performed on the piano, where you could’ve heard a pin drop.