From Notts with Love
So, as you avid readers of Rockpulse will know, I love my hometown. I love its vibrancy, its people and most of all its music. So imagine my excitement when I got the call from co-organiser/musician Chris McDonald to join in the festivities with my trusty camera. He and other organiser Tommy from Farmyard Records had set this one up in The Space, downstairs at the Nottingham Contemporary. The venue was sold out. Not surprising really. The demand for tickets meant they could have easily filled a bigger one. Having said that the room itself whilst being quite large had that intimate almost personal appeal. Perfect for tonight's artists.
Tim McDonald was the first up with a seven-piece band, including strings and a harmonica player for the last track, One Step Back. The first of two brothers on the bill had the already busy crowd captivated with smooth but strong vocals to complement the brilliance of the musicians behind.
Brother Chris was up straight after. Fourteen minutes and thirty two seconds in fact. That was the length of time Radio Nottingham's Dean Jackson had given them to get him on. Chris performed a selection of the tracks from his forthcoming Album with a professional air. Slick and silky he wafted his unique magic over us from start to finish.
Time for a set of jazzy, R&B style soul from classy Harlieghblu. Once again backed by a large entourage she more than smashed the intimate stage with her Aretha style vocals. I can't say I've ever seen an artist smile from cheek to cheek so much and still be able to sing. A joy to watch and listen to, you could see she was in her element. Making music seems so easy. Likened to Aretha or Etta, she had me drifting into more of a younger Bettye Swann. Gorgeous vocals.
Nina Smith on next. A little more of the R&B vibe but this one was a little different. I could pick out oddities such as 'message in a bottle' ( The Police ) and a spice girl cover which if you'd have read it in the programme you'd have sworn it wasn't going to work. Guess what. It actually worked a treat. Again a flawless performance as she drifted through contents of her last EP and inter-mingled it with new stuff to boot.
For me though, the act of the night Liam Bailey, came on after. I suppose I'm being biased being the keeper and occasional DJ of a nice collection of Northern Soul but as I said on FB he blew me away. Away from the world's best city for a long time he hit back with a vengeance, continually yelping the city's name out to his adoring fans. He loves it. He got right under this one's skin straight away and reminded me of, dare I say it, a young JB? Really, that good? Afraid so.
Beaming as with the last act from ear to ear he eased into You Better Leave Me and It's Not The Same. My personal fave When Will They Learn, had me walking the streets of Snienton. Harleighblu joined him on stage for a duet on How Does It Feel. This chap I hope will get his just rewards, his stage presence akin to someone with many more years under his belt and ooooozing with confidence.
Lastly but not least, the awesome vocal range belonging to Natalie Duncan. Her new Album 'Devil in Me' out on July 16 is awaited with anticipation and she treated us to a few samples from it. Sat at the keyboard resting in front of her she looked quite at home to say recent events have been troubling. We eagerly witnessed a set of varying sounds from smooth silky sultry slow to more upbeat dubstep type stuff at the end and the crowd, loving it, responded in true Notts fashion, with outbreaks of random dancingness.
The party went on into the night apparently. Yours truly, however, drifted off into the Nottingham night thinking that I really need to get down to London when they take the showcase to the capital.
Rating out of 10