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Manchester Academy 2, 29 January 2007

Nerina Pallot naked. Now there's a thought for a chilly January morning. I'm talking euphemistically, of course. For the current tour she's dropped all her usual support and performs solo: exposed, vulnerable.

Not for Nerina: she confidently delivers an hour of tunes, many culled from her superb second album, and even without her previous strings and electric band fig-leaf the songs stand proud and tall.

It didn't take too long for Nerina to get into her stride. Opening with the classic 'Idaho' she combines the best of British singer songwriting with a distinct nod to her American peers (Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos) and throughout there are elements of humour ('Geek Love' makes me think of Victoria Wood) pathos (Mr. King) and surprise (a cover version of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and a couple of new tunes).

She appears to have a love-hate relationship with her first album, but fans will have appreciated the inclusion of the title track, 'Blood Is Blood' 'Patience' and 'Daphne & Apollo'.

When switching to guitar for 'All Good People', Nerina reminded me of that other great trendsetting singer-songwriter, Linda Lewis, who blended soul and folk in the early seventies.

This soulful streak is evident throughout, confirming Nerina's own comments about her musical style and her vocal delivery is quite wonderful.

I have to say I did miss the violin and band accompaniment, especially in a venue like Academy 2. Nerina's top-notch solo acoustic set is better suited to a more intimate theatre where the punters can actually sit down, listen, and luxuriate in the tune-fest.

And this tour (rearranged from last November) has the air of a lower-budget effort and stopgap before the inevitable new recording takes place. After all, 'Fires' has been around since 2005.

It begs the question where next for Nerina Pallot? She's an engaging, quirky personality perfectly in synch with the student audience in Manchester, but appealing also to ageing and pot-bellied die-hards (and there were a fair few of those in her audience including - it has to be slurred - your own scribe) who have grown up listening to Nerina's influences and appreciate the new kid on the block.

If she can consolidate the consistency of 'Fires' with her next album, get some marketing budget behind her, and some lucky breaks, the girl will go far. Naked or otherwise.


Review by David Randall

Album review

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