Nilüfer Yanya @ CCA, Glasgow, 3 Apr
Nilüfer Yanya plays the opening night of her UK tour in Glasgow; by the end we're left wholly impressed, her voice bigger than the body it comes from
We're standing in the middle of a reverent crowd, for the opening night of the supremely talented Nilüfer Yanya’s UK tour. Westerman and Lizzie Reid, tonight's supports, are talented too, unique in their sets – particularly the unforgettable way in which Westerman employs the full space of the stage to maximise the sound of his acoustics, making the room accompany the song as an instrument rather than just a space in which his music occupies. All else pales slightly after Nilüfer Yanya plays, though.
Her voice is bigger than the body it comes from and the situations she sings about, and even though her set is beefed up by drums, sax, keys and bass, it's Yanya’s voice and lyrics that reverberate around our minds. The tracks from her debut album, Miss Universe, are technically and musically challenging, something you can appreciate more in a live setting. A fusion between jazz, soul and dark pop, when Yanya plays the songs live it becomes obvious how emotional they are, and how much of a feat it is to play a happy song about a sad or hard situation. Yanya is bang-on trend, though, and so too is her music – perhaps too trendy to play properly live, as the album’s conceptual interims are missed out from the live set. Similarly, it doesn’t quite suit the CCA theatre with its wooden walls and concert-hall feel.
Yanya’s music grows arms and legs when played live – something that perhaps even Yanya doesn’t bargain on, as at times she seems nervous and takes breaths before she begins playing. This display of humanity suits her, though, and suits her music; it's raw and relevant and displays the capacity of her talent.
We're left slightly disappointed at the omission of The Florist, which could potentially be the reason many of us are standing around waiting at the end. In the face of it all, though, Yanya's decision to leave the track out is unimportant. We've seen her, we were there, and a crowd in Glasgow has been left wholly impressed. That's more than enough.