King Tuts – 7/10

Any act looking to make a name for themselves on the King Tuts stage has a lot to live up to.

Nadine Shah smiles dimly while she catches the microphone; as soon as the notes of “Aching Bones” start to clang the public is spellbound. Her velvet voice amplifies the sounds and makes them tremble until their energy is consumed. This is probably the most interesting feature of the singer’s art, her ability to dig deep into the stories she sings, communicate her pain and force the listener to take part in it, simply by looking at her in complete silence.

The British singer-songwriter has earnt comparisons to PJ Harvey and Nick Cave; indeed,as the former she sounds mournful – regardless of the content of the song – and as the latter she is cruel and tremendously strong.

As Nadine sings “Dreary Town”, the second single from her debut album Love Your Dum and Mad, the atmosphere becomes gloomy and oppressive. This was the first song Shah ever wrote and it is about the suicide of an ex-boyfriend. But it is in this carousel-like song that the singer, with her low and deep voice and the lonely notes of guitar, achieves her best results; there is a sort of empathy between the audience and her, in the small and dark room, in which her confession becomes common heritage.

When she howls “I’m not going to follow you to the ground” you can’t help thinking about the painter Frida Kahlo’s words ‘Viva la Vida’; their works convey the same message, that to rebel against the harshness of life the best weapon is to be devoted to it.

Like the great artists who have come before her, Nadine Shah deserves to see her name printed on one of the famous King Tuts’ steps.

[Vittoria Brusco]

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