Nina Nesbitt - Dingwalls, London

“This is the biggest headline gig I’ve ever played,” Nina Nesbitt announces during her set to a sold-out Dingwalls crowd. Given the confidence which she exudes throughout the 45 minute set, you would never tell. With just her guitars and pedals for company, tonight’s set is as about as exposed as it gets, yet it’s clear from the offset that not only does Nesbitt belong on stage – she owns it. A smattering of the uneducated may have left the moment Josh Kumra struck his final soulful note but for everyone else, tonight was a showcase of an artist likely to have Very Big Things in her near future.

Despite the best attempts of an idiot few determined to talk throughout (arguably a gig annoyance right up there with constant photo/video taking), it’s a set to be savoured not spoiled. Kumra provides some harmonised backing vocals for the quietly devastating ‘Jessica’ (b-side to current single ‘Boy’), but for the rest of the night, it’s the Nesbitt show. Performers live or die by their ability to hold a crowd with even the sparsest stage setup and though it’s just Nesbitt’s third London headline gig, it might as well be her 300th. With no barrier, the crowd are literally breathing the same air but Nesbitt takes it in her stride, inviting a lucky few onto the stage for the last couple of songs while playing object-based games with the masses.

Oh, and did we say that the set was mainly comprised of new material, fresh from the studio? The uninitiated be damned, you will sing along to even the freshest track at a Nesbitt outing. And the crowd oblige with flying colours; some practically have to when selected as the chosen ones in the front row. It takes until set closer ‘The Apple Tree’ to get a unanimous crowd-led chorus, but there are spirited efforts throughout. This passion, this commitment, owes a lot to the exceptional musical performance of Nesbitt and not just the easily-led looking for a good time on a Thursday night. Her vocal intonations prove magnetic, subtle and heartbreaking moments at one with the powerful crescendos. Ready-made hits seem to come at will too, with ‘Hold You’ (which sees Nesbitt at the piano for the only time in the set) providing a gorgeous interlude and making Dingwalls seem an altogether dustier place.

As we come to the time of the year when thoughts turn to the Next Big Thing, it’s hard to overlook Nina Nesbitt. With backing from Island, Nesbitt also appears to have not just the talent but the fanbase determined to make sure her voice is heard – the mere announcement of her presence at the merch stand following the gig prompts the politest crowd surge we’ve ever seen, a throng of people queuing like only Britain can. Most importantly, though, Nesbitt has the charisma and confidence in a live setting, with the songs to back that up, to win over even the hardest of souls. Hello 2013, meet one of your newest stars.

Set List

ALL I WANT (Kodaline cover)

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