From Boston (Massachusetts) to an old school Brighton boozer in the shadows of the town's main railway station, Marissa Nadler came to perform on the second of her UK dates. Before taking her tour to the far reaches of Europe and beyond with dates in Turkey, Russia and Scandinavia amongst others, the American songstress took up a brief residence in the upstairs room of The Prince Albert pub in Trafalgar Street.
Marissa, in her little black, backless cocktail dress with a slit up one side to the thigh, looked like a fifties torch singer from some chic film noir. With her hair set in waves pulled around to one side, her delicate disposition and her sophisticated air, it really wouldn't have mattered a jot where the location of Nadler's gig was. Once she started to sing, bathed in a dim blue light, you yourself could have been in a speakeasy wearing your three-piece pinstriped suit and fedora, sipping on your Tom Collins and pulling on your Chesterfield.
To add further to the cosmopolitan flavour of the evening, the support slot was filled by Anglo-French duo Greenness. The locally based Electro-Acoustic couple of Cess Frangi (Struggling to overcome a cold) and Graham Pratt played out a varied, "experimental" set on Korg and guitar. The gentle tenderness of 'Mother' showed no signs of being impaired by any ailment as the French vocalist sang out with an extended range over a sparse but effective soundtrack. Cess joked about her short sightedness and her first attempt at writing a song in English before breaking into the high vocal, stripped-back, acoustic 'Blurry' and penultimately performed last year's single 'Dance With The Light'. The more rhythmic track, apparently accompanied by a video set in Brighton's Queen's Park where the pair are seen cavorting with antlers on their heads ("It's very Brighton", she said), was their best of the night and had a definite Bat For Lashes feel about it.
The upstairs room of The Prince Albert was full as Marissa Nadler took to the stage. The prolific singer-songwriter, for the most part unaccompanied, performed work from her ever increasing, high quality back catalogue as well as two covers. Nadler started with the title track from her most recent album 'For My Crimes'. From the opening bar and the first note sung she held the compact crowd transfixed. Her guitar work was so delicate and under stated, she seemed to barely touch the strings but produced a most glorious sound throughout the evening.
Marissa's recent collaboration with John Cale, 'Poison', was an early highlight in a well balanced set that showcased Nadler's many talents. 2014's haunting and hypnotic 'Dead City Emily' and Nadler's cover of Fred Neil's 'A Little Bit Of Rain' were also captivating. Marissa's smoky, almost whispered, delivery and her melodic guitar work complemented each other superbly.
Four more tracks from 'For My Crimes' brought home just how good Nadler's recent album release really is and how much she has developed and blossomed as an artist over the last fifteen years. Marissa was joined on stage, on ten string slide guitar, for the Country lilt of the reflective melancholy in 'I Can't Listen To Jim Clark Anymore'. The soulful, almost mournful, softly sung song mesmerised the audience. The more immediate and slightly heavier 'Blue Vapor', 'Are You Really Going To Move To The South?' and the love letter to her broken car 'Said Goodbye To That Car' ("119,657 and the engine blew, 119,657 and I thought of you"), brought Marissa's vocal to the fore. In the small room above the main bar, on an inconsequential Tuesday night in April, Marissa Nadler delivered one of the most beautiful vocals you will ever hear.
Nadler returned to her 'July' album for the sublime and harmonic 'Firecrackers', dispensed with going about the absurdities of an encore as she had "nowhere to go and hide" and finished her set, aptly (As he's painted on the pub's huge homage to dead pop stars on the outside wall) with a Leonard Cohen cover, 'Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye'.
Marissa Nadler played some exquisite music in The Prince Albert, put together a great set, highlighted her skills as a singer-songwriter and connected with her audience but the memory that will forever last is that of Marissa's seraphic vocals. She held her audience spellbound with her angelic vocal and delivered a near cathartic performance.
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