Nicole Atkins And The Sea - Soho Revue Bar London
I came across New Jersey's Nicole Atkins "Neptune City" album at the beginning of the year, falling in love straight away with the ten tracks on offer, especially the more cinematic songs like "The way it is" and the album's title track.
Nicole Atkins output brings to mind the soundtracks of Angelo Badalamenti with a bit of Tarantino twang on top, fronted by a powerful deep voice, one part Orbison one part Piaf.
I was lucky enough to to catch a trio of Nicole's shows at SXSW in Texas in March, watching as many as I could as I didn't think I'd see her again for a while.
Within a couple of days of my return she'd announced a London headline gig so I knew I had to be there...
This was my first trip to the Soho Review Bar and I wasn't too impressed with the set up.
Although it's very glitzy in appearance it's a fairly awful set up for gigs as it consist mainly of tables sloping up to the back with a runway inbetween leading up to the bar, leaving a considerable gap between the stage and the first row of tables with only a couple of side tables set a bit closer to the action.
One of my friends told me that when it's sold out people just stand in that area but it didn't seem to be heading that way for Nicole's performance.
I managed to procure one of the seats at the side anyway, giving me a decent angle for taking pictures.
When I entered the venue support Nat Johnson was running through her set.
It was quite entertaining, with her use of a pedal similiar to KT Tunstall's "Wee bastard" giving some enjoyable moments, especially during her cover of the classic "Teenager in love".
Nicole and her gang took to the stage and proceeded to run through tracks from her album alongside a couple of songs unknown to me.
At the beginning of her set I flitted between the sides of the venue, taking a few pictures trying not to get in people's way but at the same time cursing the ones at the back for not moving down to enjoy the performance from a closer viewpoint.
The band's fourth song was "The way it is".The track has quite a big build, moving from atmospheric beginnings to a huge soaring chorus with Nicole pouring her heart into it's delivery.
It was one of those instances where if it had been on "American Idol" or a similiar show of it's type people would have been standing up cheering, instead the audience seemed content to sit at their tables drinking expensive refreshments (including a bottle of vodka for £115!!).
Luckily a dozen or more of the crowd decided to head down the front, giving me the perfect excuse to get a bit closer to enjoy the show and snap away.
One thing I find about singer/ songwriters is they may be passionate performers but they are generally backed by a bunch of people who suffer from a lack of enthusiasm (possibly not wanting to detract from the singer mind you).
Nicole's backing band "The Sea" really threw themselves into their performance, playing on a few occasions as if their life depended on it , contributing hugely to the glorious set on offer.
Nicole took her time to chat between songs and was fairly amusing, engaging us with subjects ranging from her teenage years, Neptune City paedophiles and soul destroying corporate shows, having played a shocker of a gig earlier in the day.
She seemed to be far happier with the reception she was receiving at the Revue Bar, especially as the crowd down the front joined in with the rabble rousing "Brooklyn's on fire" shouting it's "Fourth of July Booklyn's on fire" refrain with as much energy as we could!!
As Nicole' set drew to a close she performed "Maybe tonight" Miss Atkin's debut single in the UK.It was a great rendition and the song is radio friendly with it's hugely infectious chorus so hopefully it will gain her several more fans to join the converts down the front.
Nicole Atkins And The Sea ended their set with "Love surreal" but I knew they'd be back as the albums title track had been sorely missing previously.
"Neptune City" is a gorgeous slow boiling song, slightly melancholic but strangely uplifting too thanks to the chorus and it's performance was one of the highlights of my evening.
Nicole completed the night with a cover of The Doors "Crystal ship", the perfect ending to a set that I can honestly say was my favourite gig of the year so far.
Discover Nicole Atkins And The Sea for yourselves over at My Space.