REVIEW gig Nao Thekla Bristol 25.04.16

Nao Was Born To Perform

As the warm sun dropped behind the horizon of Bristol Grove, the Thekla once again opened its doors and walkway to local and distant music lovers alike for them to catch the former member of The Boxettes in action.

Demo Taped opened the show and sparked immediate interest with the fluidity that surrounded Mr Alexander’s movements. His desk of technical gadgets and sound-manipulating equipment broadcasted a sound that combined short intermittent mixes with stretched and delicately scratched R&B textures, occasionally joined by his smooth singing voice that was easy on everyone’s ears.

The low light ambiance fitted well with the brand of experimental electronic pop; with tracks such as “I love you” and “Game On” transmitting feel good vibes as the throng of feet on the floor shuffled from left to right in response.

The young artist had nothing to hide during song intervals regarding his influences and the troubles he has faced himself but no snide comments were made, but were instead replaced with whooping of support and relation from the diverse crowd.

Assortments of leads were left to clean up as the stage was thoroughly prepped for the main act. The equipment fiddled with included your basic band starter pack (a full drum kit, bass guitar and standard six-string), a synthesized keyboard and a sizable selection of various effect pedals which would undoubtedly be put to good use in regards to the alternative nature of the act to come.

From untroubled to electric, the environment lit up like the stage lights as the backing band led on the bare-footed Neo/Nao, bringing with her a self-assurance easily observable through her captivating dance moves and the very grandeur of her singing presence, best described as the ardent offspring of Lauryn Hill, Amel Larrieux and a pure nineties influence.

Each track was actualized beside a collection of groove moves, creating something far more exciting to the audience than a straight stand-still performance. An unsystematic register of reactions manifested inside the vessel with each passing track. From a still hush to a scorching euphoria, the diversity flowing through her work was undeniable and imaginatively erratic.

The likes of “Adore You” and “Good Girl” brought about a Neo-soul ethereality to the Thekla as Miss Joshua scanned her hand over her spectators, expressing her adulation to all those that came out to start the week with something more uplifting than the Monday blues.

Shedding tears through certain songs, it became slowly evident just how close to home the material was for the singer/songwriter as she blasted the cobwebs away with the colossal chorus of “Girlfriend”.

As interludes set in, Nao spoke modestly of her time recording for her soon-to-be album and other unpretentious topics which established a connection and example that her feet were still proverbially planted on the ground.

“It’s You”, “Firefly” and “Zillionaire” vibrated the boats hull with banging bass notes, prominent drum beats and an overflowing handful of synthesized sounds. Leading swiftly into an encore of “Bad Blood” which damn near shook the bolts loose from the English tub, strobe lights pulsed and the on-lookers lost all inhibition to control themselves.

It is a motivating moment to experience someone who originally started out as a backing singer with big dreams, to gradually claw her way into the glare of publicity and successfully hone it to tread a path that could promptly take her en route towards the black stamp of arena status. The facts of the matter are that Nao was born to perform and come that album release; the airtime will be ubiquitous and unforgiving.

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