NAO @ The Art School, Glasgow, 27 Oct
“We've just got back from touring in the States, and they brought the heat. But Glasgow, you are bringing the HEAT.” Neo Joshua – aka NAO – takes a quick breather in the middle of a sweaty, celebratory set. The Art School audience roars with delight.
From the second NAO steps out she radiates heat. Physical, full-body moves light up each corner of the stage, and she adds detail to every track with a voice so crystalline it's hard to remind yourself she's singing live and pulling off that exuberant twirl. What's more, an enchanted crowd bounce off her boundless energy: from the very first bars of Intro (Like Velvet) from this year's debut album For All We Know, the packed venue opens up into a warm, welcoming dancefloor.
Tonight she's joined by a four-piece band, and her guitarist lets loose a surprising, fiery solo that's shamelessly exciting – NAO crouches low, watching the crowd revel in it. Her backing vocalists are supplied pre-recorded, but after the success of this tour it surely won't be long until she's flanked by extra singers.
Shiny happy faces whoop for older cut Inhale Exhale and firm favourite So Good (the angular, A.K. Paul-produced track that first brought NAO internet fame). She's careful to temper the night's high-energy floor fillers with shaded, shadowed balladry, too. In The Morning and Blue Wine show off her ability to take a firm pull at your heart, but NAO obviously enjoys watching her audience throw their best moves back at her. Trophy is interrupted by a brief, gleeful rendition of Justin Timberlake's Senorita, and previous singles Zillionaire, Girlfriend and Firefly (with Mura Masa) are sung out loud and word-perfect, like time-honoured crowd pleasers.
NAO waits roughly five seconds for an encore; stamping feet and throaty “Nay-ooooo” chants prove too hard to ignore. She's left Bad Blood 'til last on purpose, and everyone knows it. Those extra vocals can wait, too, because for now she's got a rapturous, giddy fan base ready to back her up – and then some.