3rd November 2015.
On this cold November night we were welcomed to two support acts before Nell. Nina Schofield started the proceedings to a half full room, warming up the audience, treating them to the sounds of perfect piano pop. Actually I struggle to describe Nina’s sound. Many, have likened her from anywhere between Kate Bush to Ellie Goulding. As much as she did remind me of someone I do not take to these comparisons. In fact to struggle to compare and be taken in by her sounds is compliment enough that she is her own performer with her keyboard skills and vocal acrobatics. Those who came early were lucky.
An energetic Judith Owens followed capturing the appreciative crowd with accompanying bassist Leland Sklar. The crowd was definitely warming up with her covers, and with her own songs like Sweet Feet and New Orleans they were definitely on board. We were told many stories which gained many laughs; especially with her personal stories of Newcastle, as well as mimicking the accent. The appreciative crowd was definitely won over with the chat and the jazzy—bluesy mix she brought to the room.
The crowd was soon full to capacity, becoming ever more as Nell Bryden came pumping on the stage to a rapturous audience. Appropriately she opened with Tonight with the lines “I’m so excited for tonight” and for me there are not too many artists that could get me out on a cold miserable November night. Nell is one of the few.
Nell is quite a storyteller which come as quick as the second song as she noticed ‘robotic sounds’ from her equipment. As I am new to her, and she is forever the professional, I thought it was part of the show, as though she was mixing it up for both the youthful and older crowd of Cluny 2. We are treated to a great mix of upbeat tunes, stripped back mellow rock, pop, Country, jazzy-blues and soul. This was the first time I have been stood at the very back of a crowd for ages, as I am normally at the front due to my height; so it was a pleasure to see the crowd in the palm of Nell’s hands, rocking to my favourite track Waves.
The set-list is quite long for what seemed to be a very quick night; some songs lead into the other quite smoothly and the ‘robot’ makes another surprise appearance at the beginning of Wolves. Nell apologises a few times that ‘Newcastle being the first night of the tour, we have become her ‘guinea pigs,’ but I feel this made the night more personal. Recently I have been to ‘bigger shows,’ so being in this smaller venue makes you appreciate artists like Nell Bryden even more. However, she is definitely worthy of the bigger venue.
At the halfway mark, Judith Owens is welcomed back. We are told of how they met at writing camp (along with another singer whose name I did not get) and are treated to songs from that time; Holes In My Shoes with just the two ladies singing with Nell’s keyboardist, Ali Petrie. Then, My House, which is like a dirty blues song and you could even see the energy on stage with Judith bringing out her tambourine and guitarist Lorne Ashley almost trance like with drummer James Bernardis keeping the pace. Actually the moves of Ashley are a show of their own.
Stripping back again, we are treated to a haunting version of Crowded House’s, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over.’ A few more songs followed, and a mere mention of Sirens makes the room became very still and quiet. As my eyes scanned the audience members I was getting goose bumps as each one stood silently captivated.
Nell tells the crowd she will sign stuff at the end; and continuing a joke made earlier by Judith ‘not to touch Leland’s beard,’ we are not to touch Nell’s hair, then the crowd get fired up again, with Second Time Round with the band leaving the stage.
Chants of ‘one more song’ followed with one particular vocal male and they are back on. Nell jokes, ‘yes we all know what happens when I leave the stage, you chant and I return.” With one final treat the band play Someday then Nell finally whispers to her crowd “thank you” and exists stage right to end a warm, energetic night full of laughs and music for body, heart and soul.