Nerina Pallot – The Duchess, 11/10/09

I know what you’re thinking – Sunday is a family day, right? I agree and, being honest, there aren’t too many acts that I’ve been tempted to break that unofficial rule for. Good job I’ve got an understanding family as tonight I’m on a solo outing to the Duchess.

Support tonight was from Jonathan Jeremiah (and MySpace), man and guitar from London. Rakishly good-looking, he reminded me a little of Russell Brand, but with talent. Unlike the similar mid-week act, Mr Jeremiah had an incredibly strong voice and knew how to work both the microphone and audience for maximum effect. His set consisted of two songs that he announced were covers – one that only one one audience member recognised, the other James Taylor’s Machine Gun Kelly. The rest were, I believe, his own material with titles such as Happiness and Sweet Sunshine (according to his “music lawyer” you need a weather song). The guitar-playing was good and the songs livened up the crowd well, as any good support act should do.

But, I’m guessing, most of us were there for the headline act – Nerina Pallot (and, again, on MySpace). Nerina’s 2006 album, Fires, is one of those that sits in my collection, gathering dust until such time as I remember it’s there, play it and fall in love with it all over again. Currently touring to promote her recently released third album, The Graduate, she’s listed as Rock/Pop/Alternative on MySpace. I would add a touch of folk-pop to that list.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see too much of her during the gig. After being alerted that she was coming on stage by applause from the front (it was a reasonably big crowd for the Duchess and certainly bigger than the seven people who saw her when she last played York, eight years ago), I caught a brief glimpse before she failed to appear in front of the microphone I had set my sights on. Had she fallen? Was she, in fact, a midget? No, it turns out that Nerina was playing keyboards of to the side of the stage for most of the set, rising to play guitar for just a couple of songs – the wonderful Everything’s Illuminated and Everybody’s Gone To War. The latter was brilliantly rocked-up for the live performance.

In between songs from both The Graduate and Fires, Nerina proved to have a great rapport with the audience and a very dry wit. Her speaking voice comes across as a bit dreamy, a bit dippy, a little spaced-out, totally different to her fantastic singing voice. “I seem to have lost a shoe,” she announces the first time she stands up. Then, “I’ve found it now.” On another occasion, “You’re all very quiet. I hope I haven’t brought the mood down by singing about a disastrous love affair.” (sic). She also kept her band members (bass and drums) on their toes by changing the set list around at whim.

After over an hour, Nerina announced that it was time to end and that she would be finishing with a medley of songs from her favourite singer-songwriter, before launching into a story about editing her own Wikipedia entry to spice it up a bit. She seemed a little upset by the fact that some killjoy removed the “fact” that she was the love-child of Elton John and Kiki Dee after just twenty-four hours. There followed the medley consisting of Your Song, Benny and the Jets and Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – strange, really, as I had been mentally comparing Nerina to Elton John during the set.

After a short, obligatory time off-stage, Nerina returned to play a two-song encore, accompanying herself on the keyboard. I didn’t recognise the first song but the finale was the Ivor Novello nominated Sophia, beautifully sung and a great end to a fantastic gig. Definitely worth a Sunday evening out.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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