Nerina Pallot @ The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, 10 Apr
Despite arriving on stage slightly later than planned, and performing a set that doesn't always land, Nerina Pallot's personality is the true star tonight
“I just got a text from my tour manager asking why I wasn’t on stage,” laughs Nerina Pallot. “There was a mix up with timings and I was in Nando's.” Spicy chicken aside, there’s a job to do, and an artist in town promoting her underappreciated sixth album Stay Lucky.
It’s an inauspicious start – a crowd spread thinly across a somewhat sparse Liquid Room and a singer rushing to the stage – but Pallot pulls it off with panache.
Even more so than her songs, it’s Pallot’s charm and skill as a performer that is on show tonight. Across six albums she’s written sparse bedroom confessionals, mellow Radio 2 ballads and sprightly socially conscious pop-rock. Tonight, joined by a two-piece rhythm section, she steps comfortably between piano and guitar for a slightly truncated set that shows off a smoky voice capable of twisting from Norah Jones to Stevie Nicks, with a surprisingly colourful sense of humour.
“So who’s on Tinder?” Pallot asks an audience mostly pushing their fifties. One voice – a barman – rings out, but she’s already off on a riff about a prospective moneymaking scheme: user reviews with no holds barred.
At times the show is brilliant: Man Didn’t Walk on the Moon draws liberally from the best of Fleetwood Mac, while the aching Learning to Breathe – about the death of a friend’s mother and his subsequent coming out – is touchingly rolled out for the first time in a decade.
Sadly, while musically the trio are solid at making sad songs swing, much of the rest of the set never quite explodes as vividly as Pallot’s personality does. In an echoing venue her arrangements are better suited to piano than guitar and she never quite shakes a polite but subdued audience to life. Minor quibbles though; after six albums Pallot is clearly an assured performer who remains excellent company to spend an hour with, as much for her engaging stage presence as for a set of songs which don’t always sparkle.
Ending the show with the PJ Harvey-esque Put Your Hands Up and a solo piano version of Sophia, Pallot dashes off into the night. Time for another Nando's? Cheeky indeed.