Monday, August 04, 2008

Live Review - Nina Nastasia

Nina Nastasia
Stereo, Glasgow
3 August 2008

Words: Chris Hynd

I've always been someone who likes to extol the virtues of "less is more" and it's always heartening to see a performer who appears to adhere to the same set of principles. Tonight Nina Nastasia appears onstage in a solo capacity, sans-band and sans-Jim White, her collaborator on 2007's "You Follow Me", clad all in black and with only her acoustic guitar and a chair for company. Sometimes less is extraordinarily more and this performance was no exception.

It's been said that Nastasia is an overly serious performer, indeed I've heard her described in some circles as "dour", but all that was swept aside in just over an hour of exceptional quality. Some performers don't really need amplification and at times Nastasia exemplified that - "Late Night" from the aforementioned LP with Jim White was the perfect example, Nastasia rocking back from the microphone, her voice soaring into the room and leaving a chill down your spine. It was a spellbinding sight, that this single entity alone in the middle of Stereo's not inconsiderable stage could create such a forceful and majestic sound.

But Nastasia is on chatty and relaxed form, at one point even asking someone how they hurt their bandaged hand, and takes requests from the rapt crowd. A reverential and respectful hush descended as the likes of "Superstar", "You Her And Me" and "In The Evening", stripped bare of instrumentation and accompaniment, jar and echo around the room. It's wonderful to see that one person's voice and one person's playing can continue to hold people's attention in such a way, testament to Nastasia's strength, her songs and her words, economic in delivery but ambitious and dense in their outlook and vision.

It's always a pleasure witnessing somebody enjoying what they do and Nastasia clearly feels comfortable in a town which has welcomed her before (even though she notes that she is back in "the stabbingest town in Europe!"). Sometimes performers can be lost with only a solitary guitar and a voice for company, but it's never an accusation you can label Nastasia with, delivering moments of exquisite beauty throughout her set, "Underground" from 2000's "Dogs" and "Jim's Room" from "On Leaving" are particularly high on quality, but quality was always in evidence as Nastasia proved again that she was a performer of rare ambition.

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