Nicole Atkins - Slaughtered Lamb, London
US singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins has always been a firm fave of the Fix fraternity, so when she announced she was popping to the UK for a brief visit it was a no brainer to head along to watch her extremely intimate show at London's Slaughtered Lamb.
I was ruminating before the singer's entrance, realising that this was the eighth Nicole set I'd attended, having viewed a couple of London dates and numerous showcases at Austin's prestigious SXSW event over the last few years, but this was the first time I'd actually seen her play a solo set as she's always been previously accompanied by a band.
Nicole has released two albums in the UK and her slaughtered set was pulled from both Neptune City and Mondo Amore, with a few covers also thrown in.
I've said previously in reviews that I really enjoy watching "unplugged" gigs as I'm a musician myself, so really love hearing songs stripped to their bare bones - and I knew I was going to be pulled in to Nicole's set from the off as she delivered an exqusite acoustic version of Neptune opener 'Maybe Tonight', with her rich dark vocals soaring during the song's chorus. It was certainly an interesting experience hearing the country-tinged versions of songs that are usually delivered with dramatic arrangements but as Nicole exclaimed, it was Hee Haw night at the Slaughtered Lamb!
The singer's set was very laid back throughout the evening and Nicole spent a lot of time chatting between songs to an audience she obviously cared about, regaling us with tales of John Cougar Mellencamp's mural in Sun Studios, a basement bludgeoning in her old flat in Asbury Park and how she couldn't bring her band to London with her as she'd a large gambling debt to pay off (I believe she was joking at that point!).
Nicole had even taken the time to re-learn the title track of her 2006 EP Bleeding Diamonds that day just because someone requested it on Twitter. The song was an unexpected stand out moment but pretty much every track played was a winner, including the unreleased 'Call Me The Witch', 'Hotel Plaster' and a captivating 'Cry, Cry, Cry'.
This was my first time visiting the basement venue and I quite liked the place but it was flippin' hot as the room was rammed, leading to Nicole's remark that it was "Hot as balls in here!" The singer was suffering slightly from the heat early on in the show and was craving a beer with some ice. A kind audience member eventually offered up the chance of a pint but used a song request as a bargaining tool, getting his wish a few tracks down the line, with a dedicated version of one of Nicole's most well know songs, 'The Way It Is'.
The Neptune City track was one of the numbers Nicole played on Jools Holland's show a couple of years back, performed to an audience that included Kings Of Leon and Metallica. It's certainly my favourite in Miss Atkins' repertoire and the acoustic version was just a delight to hear. The track was the first in a trio of exceptional songs that completed Nicole's set as Mondo closer 'The Tower' followed, with the song's big build as it draws to a "trick" ending fooling the majority of the audience, causing them to rapturously applaud slightly too early, leading to laughter when the song restarted.
Nicole closed her set with 'Neptune City', unplugging her guitar and stepping away from her mic to join her audience, leading us all in a singalong of her debut album title track. This went down extremely well with the crowd, with the singer returning to treat us to one final song, a cover of Roy Orbison's 'Crying'. Nicole's voice has been compared to Roy's on numerous occasions and she certainly did the song justice, leaving us all wanting more.
Nicole mentioned during the gig that she may be back in October, possibly bringing her band with her, so it's certainly worth keeping an eye out for shows around that time.
Last updated: 18/04/2018 08:39:43