21st June 2012
After seeing Nell Bryden as support to Duane Eddy only a couple of weeks previously I was surprised to see her back in Newcastle so soon. As I’d been so impressed by her new album (see review); I made the relevant phone calls only to be told that the concert was actually being sponsored by a radio station and only their listeners would be attending.
Undeterred another call was made and I was eventually added to the guest list. When I arrived at the Cluny it was decorated inside and out with the radio stations flags and banners and an assortment of pretty young women were dotted around in brightly coloured station t-shirts. I introduced myself to a young lady with a clip board who immediately directed me to Cluny II where there ‘would be free drinks in the VIP bar!’
Purely to be sociable we ran the 50 yards or so and availed ourselves of this kind offer. As I sank my second pint I took a long hard look around the rest of the VIP’s. It was soon apparent none of them had been to the Cluny before, as the ladies were in their finest ‘going out’ clothes and the men in an array of smart but casual clothing.
As a regular attendee I don’t always have a shave never mind wear a clean shirt for the type of acts that play here!
Eventually we were directed back to the main Cluny building and ushered into another VIP area; which was just the raised bar area that had been cordoned off with two chairs and a handwritten sign – VIP’s Only. More free beer was offered and accepted before Nell Bryden was introduced to the packed crowd by a jolly Disc Jockey.
After taking her place in front of a rose covered microphone and thanking everyone for coming she started the short set with the title track from her 2009 debut UK album What Does It Take? I was pleasantly surprised to hear the fans in the lower part of the venue singing along; but the majority actually appeared to be long term fans.
This was neatly followed by Couldn’t Love You More and a frighteningly fine version of Mercy on Me which was only spoilt by the incessant chattering of people in my VIP Area who were more concerned about the quality of the wine on offer than the quality of musicianship on the stage.
Nell took it all in her stride and slipped in a couple more songs from What Does it Take before concentrating on the new album.
As Nell’s voice soared into the rafters during Buildings and Treetops the noise around me became unbearable so ‘words were exchanged’ and two of the guilty parties left the area in a strop; but I was greeted by nods of approval from several people around us.
Coincidently during the next song Shake The Tree there was an outbreak of spontaneous clapping along from the crowd and even yelps of appreciation – this certainly wasn’t a regular Cluny audience!
After a stripped down version of It’s Not Like Loving You; before which Nell told us it had been the first of her songs that she ever heard played on the radio the jolly Disc Jockey joined here onstage for a Q & A which was basically just a verbalized Press Release before Nell ended the evening with a couple more songs and finally Sirens which just might be one of the highlights of my year so far.
As I finished the last of my free beer I watched the longest queue I’ve ever seen at a gig patiently wait to buy a CD and have their photo taken for the Radio Station website.
Although Nell Bryden only sang for just over an hour this concert was one of the best I’ve seen this year and bodes well for a tour in the Autumn when she’ll have a band with her.
Interview with Nell Bryden on my radio show (not the station that sponsored the gig!)