Nell Bryden burst on to the scene in 2009, going from ‘Whodat’ to a world famous artist seemingly overnight. Actually it took a lot of work and playing some seriously scuzzy venues but she built a reputation as a serious singer and when I first saw her – at the sadly lost Lumiere in Kilburn – she was building a hearty following.
When I got the call to come and see her at the Roundhouse Studio on Thursday I was a little surprised that she was playing such a bijou venue but, thinking it through, she has always been about connecting to her audience and she certainly did that. She played an hourt and a bit of superb music, really connecting with the crowd as she interspersed her songs with little tales and a self-deprecating dig at herself. She has toured recently with Gary Barlow and joked that he had 5 guitar techs to her 1 – herself!
The songs were superb and the presentation equally fine. Her band were brilliantly invisible – they played the perfect part of a backing band that helps the music but takes nothing away from the star – and it all allowed Ms Bryden the centre stage which she happily seems to enjoy.
‘Helen’s Requiem’ was fabulous as was a great ‘Green Dress’ and she spread the music across both her albums. ‘Buildings & Treetops’ hit the mark and the sense of loss and freedom that the song incorporates was clear while her version of the Foo Fighters ‘Learn To Fly’ was exquisite. For me, the best song she has written is the countryesque ‘Only Life I Know’ and she played it brilliantly here.
Her appearance is somewhat startling as she lost all her hair to stress induced alopecia but her look is not all she is about and after the first few minutes all you really notice is her voice and that is well worth the dragging out on a freezing London night for.
The support for the evening was half of Feelix – notably Kat Eaton on vocals and Nick Atkinson on guitars – and I will definitely make a point of catching them again. Kat has a remarkable voice, veering between soul and folk and Nick’s picking style is great to hear. Very Tasty.
Setlist: What Does It Take - (Gibson) Tonight - (Gibson) Helen's Requiem (Martin) Echoes (Martin) Buildings And Treetops (Martin) Green Dress (Gibsone) Only Life I Know (Martin) Fingerprints (Gibsone) Mercy On Me (Gibsone) Learn To Fly (Martin 2) Downtown Lullaby (Martin 2) Someday (Gibsone) Couldn't Love You More (Gibsone) Not Like Loving You (Gibsone) Goodbye (Gibsone) Second Time Around (Gibsone) Foo Fighters - Learn To Fly Sirens (Martin) Shake The Tree (Gibsone)