Nernia Pallot was, by her own admission, ‘a little bit pissed’. Not with life, the world, or Manchester. No, it was a state induced by pre-gig drinks, and a steady influx of rose wine. Not that it affected a suitably engaging performance as she and her band ripped into the opening pairing of ‘If I Had A Girl’ and ‘Spirit Walks’ – powerful numbers that reminded of Amy Winehouse and PJ Harvey in equal measures and both lifted from her excellent current album The Sound And The Fury.
The electronica tinkering that infuses the album was left behind – Pallot didn’t want to bring that aspect of the record on tour – for a stage set split in equal measures between solo guitar or keyboard pieces, or with her tight three piece band of Mark Ferguson (bass), Lewis Wright (drums) and Samuel Taylor (guitar). The latter also delivered an engaging acoustic support set – à la Ryan Adams – with Rebecca Van Cleeve providing harmony vocals.
Pallot’s set majored equally on The Sound Of Fury and Fires – without question, her two strongest albums, with her intervening pop dalliances of The Graduate and Year Of The Wolf being represented solely by the well-received ‘Hold Your Hands Up’. There were also outings for an outstanding new number – the seductively soulful ‘Come Into My Room’. ‘Better Than Today’ – a song she wrote for Kylie, a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, and’ Daphne & Apollo’ from her 2001 debut.
Highlights? The opening two numbers set an impossibly high standard, but from a band perspective, the reworking of ‘Heart Attack’ from Fires was quite inspired, as were the pairing – towards the end of the set – of ‘Rousseau’ and ‘Ain’t Got Anything Left’, again both lifted from the new album.
On stage alone, Pallot was equally mesmerising – you could hear a pin drop during the delicate acoustic version of ‘Mr King’, and her cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was equally haunting.
Such was the quality of the songs and their delivery, it makes you wonder why Nerina Pallot hasn’t garnered wider acclaim. But thankfully she has a sufficiently strong fan base to mean that she can continue to do what she wants – including swigging from a bottle of wine on stage. Some may regard that as unprofessional, others that that’s rock ‘n’ roll (Liam Gallagher would no doubt have approved), but no one seemed to care.
‘Manchester, I love you’ she gushed more than once. The feeling seemed mutual.
Set list: If I Had A Girl / Spirit Walks / Idaho / Damascus / Better Than Today / Mr King / Daphne & Apollo / Love Will Tear Us Apart / Come Into My Room / This Is Love / Geek Love / Heart Attack / There Is A Drum / Rousseau / Ain’t Got Anything Left / Put Your Hands Up / Sophia
Review by Pete Whalley
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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