Live Music + Gig Reviews

Nathalie Nahai @ Storm, London

16 June 2006

Have you ever been to Storm? Thats the question someone should have asked Nathalie Nahai before she agreed to play it. I’m willing to bet the answer would have been no.

A small, divey club on Leicester Square; it’s the kind of place where Tropical Reef is sold at 3.50 and RnB gets people on the dancefloor. UV lights, a large soundsystem, red painted walls – I think you know what I mean. The kind of place, in other words, that probably does not see too much in the way of acoustic guitars and female singer songwriters.

That’s what we were there to see, though, and, following a warmup of varying quality, Nahai floated onto stage, indeed clutching an acoustic guitar and looking every inch out of place. Only half full, with half of those clearly there for something else, Storm began to look like a strange choice of venue to launch your debut album.

Bewilderingly, the smoke machine was immediately called into action. As it did its rather acrid business all across the dancefloor and the glitter balls and glitter rollers began working overtime, a horrible mishmash of lights illuminated the stage. Whether by accident or by design, a green spotlight had been trained exactly on her face, clashing with the red walls and combining rather unfortunately with her bright white dress to remind me of Cameron Diaz in Shrek 2. Much better looking, mind you.

The bassist bore more than a passing resemblance to Chris Moyles, and it was generally so odd that it crossed my mind that I might be dreaming. Had I dropped off at work? Was this the state of my subconcious? Would Wayne Rooney come on next, playing a drum solo with two huge, fractured metatarsals?

He didn’t. I hadn’t. I’m pleased to say it was all real, and rather good as well. Nahai’s mellow folksy tones managed to cut through the surroundings and, for her brief set, we were transported somewhere far nicer; a land of green fields, pleasant campfires and sunny weather. As she opened up her impressive vocal range, a rather infectious smile played constantly on her face, seemingly about to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Simple songs of love, loss and mourning brought a brief patch of sweetness and light to Leicester Square.

The night continued, and the amount of people who clearly couldn’t give a monkeys about acoustic guitars increased in direct proportion to Smirnoff Ice sales behind the bar. Well gelled estate agents and top shop princesses clustered on the edge of the dancefloor, looking as if they’d happily leave again if they hadn’t just paid ten quid to get in.

But no-one was paying any attention to them. Nahai finished to a rapturous reception, jumping down into the group of people who were actually there to see her. A swift encore seemed appropriate, then we all legged it before anyone could play the Pussycat Dolls. A legend for pulling it off – but book somewhere else next time…

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Nathalie Nahai @ Storm, London