Sunday 16 October 2022

Nerina Pallot - Boiler Room, Guildford - 12th October 2022

Great singer, great songs and good sound! A highly enjoyable Wednesday evening.

I only discovered Nerina Pallot while browsing through upcoming gigs at a local venue, The Boiler Room in Guildford.

I've a liking for female singer-songwriters, so I browsed YouTube for some of her videos and liked what I heard and bought a ticket.

I managed to book myself for two gigs, two nights running, so thought I might feel a bit jaded after trekking to Southampton for The Amazons (read about that elsewhere), but I booked this one first and it's a short journey to Guildford.

I arrived just after 7:30 and found I'd already missed one support artist, Lily Gvero, so I can't give you an opinion on her (check out Google, I found one video easily enough, if you're interested).

For a Wednesday night, the venue was already fairly full by 8, when T.I.G.Y came on. This is a husband and wife duo, she with a pleasant voice, but I found them and their songs a bit saccharin for my taste. Certainly not a chore to listen to, but after three songs I did wander off to buy myself a beer (the bar is just one end of the single room, so I was still able to listen).

I managed to shuffle nearer to the front as the venue filled, if not to capacity, certainly getting close to it.

Having expected the venue to be pretty quiet (as it was for the equally good, imo, Ren Harvieu) I was surprised at the size of the audience. Clearly Nerina has a strong following.

One irritation was the wall of bulky middle-aged (no, let's be honest, ageing) men who stood right at the front, blocking the view for most of the people behind them.

I've stood there myself once or twice, but most people bend down a little to provide more of a view for those behind. These blokes didn't and the way they stared, unmoving at Nerina throughout the show did make me wonder if she might need a restraining order or 4!

Anyway, none of that is her, her band or the venue's fault, so what was the gig like?

The band appeared at 9 sharp, Nerina in dungarees and a drummer, guitarist and bassist joining her.

Having seen some videos, I knew that she was likely to play both keyboards and guitar during the set and sure enough there was a keyboard setup near the front of the stage (It once had a cage in front of it - when did that go? Nice that it has, though!) and a taller microphone waiting for her to stand by later on.

They started with 'Cold Places' and then quickly into new song 'Alice at the Beach', which I think is a great song.

Part of Alice at the Beach

An earlier song, 'Idaho' followed and then 'Bring Him Fire' and the upbeat 'Put You Hands Up', which saw Nerina switch to a guitar.

Part of Put Your Hands Up

Nerina chatted easily (possibly a little too, as she got a reminder about the 10:30 curfew handed to her part way through, so possibly skipped a song?) and involved the band (especially her guitarist, the others were at the back, but introduced - Yes, Bastille, it's not hard to do!).

She skipped between old and new tracks (from a just released album), quipping that 'Most of you are only here for the 2nd album' at one point - Not really knowing of her before, I didn't even know which album this was!

Performance wise (aside from forgetting the lyrics to one song and having to look them up on Google, which was quite funny) she was excellent. I really like her voice, a good range, but no vocal acrobatics and able to switch between melancholy ballards, jazzy numbers and upbeat pop with ease.

Part of The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

The set ended with 'Master Builder' (a song 'ripping off Stevie Wonder' we were told) and then after about 15 seconds they were back for an encore ("I'm glad you clapped because I finished the set too soon after the warning about the curfew and have some more songs to play!" we were told).

It finished, as she often seems to looking through, with Sophia.

After the disappointment of The Amazons (there, saved you reading the review if you can't be bothered), this was a great gig.

Nerina has a great voice, a good back-catalogue of varied material, an easy-going manner and the sound was excellent, with a perfect balance of vocals and instruments.

Perhaps it's easier to achieve a good sound balance in a tiny venue like the Boiler Room (or it may be far harder, I've no idea!), but I know the Guildhall can be good too, so this reminded me that there's no excuse for the sound at the Amazons gig. Still, move on.

Nerina Pallot and her band lifted my mood and I'll 100% go and see her again if she's playing locally.

If you like a female singer-songwriter, I'd advise you to do so, too!

Cold Places
Alice at the Beach
Bring Him Fire
Put Your Hands Up
Mr King
I Don’t Know What I’m Doing
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Geek Love
Master Builder
Only the Old Songs

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