O2 Academy (Newcastle)
6th May 2016.
If you had a ticket for Nina Nesbitt at the O2 Academy you were being spoilt, as we were given THREE support acts tonight. Unfortunately, I arrived just as the first act finished but I did manage to catch Olivia Sebastianelli, who is a natural entertainer and told us that this is the second time she has toured with Nina. Part of her charm was introducing each number with a little story. Olivia also gave us a most beautiful rendition of the Prince penned song Nothing Compares 2 U – her vocals almost matching those of Sinead O’Connor.
The main headline support slot went to Leo Stannard, who was new to my ears and brought an impressive stage set including his name in lights and on witnessing his set you can definitely see why his name is in lights on poster boards outside venues across the UK. Starting quietly, and not mentioning the titles his first two numbers were almost Paolo Nutini like, in both vocals and guitar style. For his third number he showcased more of his guitar wizardry, taking a seat when he added some impressive hand-slaps on Lost. Leo is also a prolific talker in between songs and tries his best to engage a crowd that was ‘somewhat talkative’ meaning some of his stories were lost in the din, but we do know that he has recently returned from LA as he played us some new songs from that trip. One of these songs Oceans, showcased more of his vocal range and really grabbed the audiences’ attention. All too soon he left us with an older number Please Don’t and the Leo Stannard fans in attendance definitely make their appreciation heard.
Although the crowd was mainly made up from the younger generation, there was still a noticeable amount of mature souls in there too; the other noticeable point was that it was quite a rowdy crowd with far too much loud chattering when the supports were on, which was a shame but becoming a regular problem at this venue. Luckily though, the act that people had come to see, Nina Nesbitt, instantly silenced them as she took her place in between the synths, keyboards and a drum pad before picking up an acoustic guitar and starting the show with into Noserings and Shoestrings then Apple Tree making the crowd both visibly pumped while being silently stunned. The faces of awe and concentration and a few lips mouthing along to the words was a joy to witness.
The fourth number introduced us to her guitarist and the lights now to become an actual light-show; and were the most impressive lighting I have seen in the small room of the Academy. You may be be surprised that Nina did not make it to the bigger downstairs room of this venue, especially as her performance alone merited it but also that light-show alongside her ‘big sound’ and engagement with the sold-out audience was certainly worthy of it. Saying this though there is nothing better than being part of an intimate crowd too which I actually do prefer!
Although the majority of us were so captivated by Nina’s performance we remained in absolute silence throughout, she really does try and get the crowd to raise the volume at times. When introducing Put It On she explained that she had family members in the crowd and because “we are Geordies” “we can definitely bring it tonight!” The vibe stayed, especially when she was active between the synths, keys, drum pad and electric guitar, and it was mesmerizing to watch it all unfold let alone see the crowd really come alive with the amazing song Chewing Gum.
Like the support acts Nina can talk, but the difference here was EVERYONE wanted to listen to her words. At one stage she introduced us to her ‘home studio,’ Niightwatch. Yes, she had literally brought her studio on the road with her and it makes a brilliant stage set too. She then told us that her latest project ‘Songs I Wrote For You,’ is a collection of songs that she has wrote based on letters from fans, making for a very touching moment. There are musicians that get inspired by their fans but Nina seems to go that one step further. As she tells us about this project her guitarist gives us haunting strums and with the lights white and a slight smokiness to the stage she launched into Ontario where the song originates.
She tells us that Bubbles will be her last song of the night, and the crowd are visibly disappointed until the big drums and guitars come out filing the room with an incredible energy that would definitely been a great ending but an encore comes
Because most of the audience were on the younger side, and this might have been one of their first gig experiences sot many were confused when the lights stayed off for a little longer than expected; but eventually the chants for ‘more’ become almost hysterical just as Nina returned to the stage.
The audience was now ecstatic that she had returned and were now the loudest that they had been all night; contributing to her sing-off between the boys and the girls with Stay Out and if only we could have done just that; as this really was her last song of a very, very impressive set-list..
L’il Vik (aka Victoria Ling)
photos courtesy http://137imaging.co.uk & https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153995303265733.1073741947.84126455732&type=3