Nerina Pallot
at the Late Room,
Manchester, England
(30 May 2005)

After a four-year hiatus, Nerina Pallot is back and better than ever with her critically acclaimed previous Radio 2 album of the week release, Fires.

Taking a back step this time, Nerina has chosen to use a new approach in her touring, a kind of "gig gradualism technique" by choosing to do support gigs with prestigious names such as Suzanne Vega, Missy Higgins and Jamie Cullum instead of headlining herself (which she has done previously) and experimenting with her repertoire of music. Some gigs had included tracks from her previously released Dear Frustrated Superstar album, but for Manchester Nerina concentrated on Fires. Unlike the wine that she was consuming in her plastic cup, Nerina herself was maturing like a vintage wine deserved of the finest crystal. Tonight Nerina supported Missy Higgins at this sold-out event and completely won over the mostly Australian crowd who were rabid Missy fans. Missy is only 21 and has already won the highest Australian music awards, which are equivalent to the Grammy's. Missy is definitely a contender as a future rock chick to reckon with.

The lovely acoustics of the Late Room were ideal in enhancing Nerina's dulcet tones, and her guitar playing and piano were in top form. Opening the set with her Martin guitar in hand, she went into a smoothly rocking rendition of "All Good People" and then went straight to the piano where she remained until her last number, the epic anthem "Everybody's Going to War" when she returned to her guitar once again leaving the audience with the cliffhanger, "I got a friend who's a pure bred killing machine, I think he might be dead by Christmas."

The crowd, mostly seated on the floor, remained in a rapturous silence during the ethereal "Mr. King," and Nerina thanked the crowd for their silence during the number as she told us that Mr. King was the loveliest man she had ever worked for and that he told her "she made an old man very happy indeed" for writing a song about him. I think she had made a few of us very happy as well!

The surprise of the evening was Nerina juxtaposing two entirely different "love" songs, the Joy Division classic "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and her autobiographical "Geek Love." Doing an iconic Manchester band's most famous song was certainly a risk especially in the band's home town, but it was much more poignant and riveting than the original and done with a completely different approach with a combination of chest and head voice blend and fluid piano riffs.

Her penultimate number was her current single "Damascus." Nerina was skeptical about its airplay and thought radio stations haven't been playing it, but it has featured on Wogan and has drawn favourable praise from the old geezer himself, who was hoping he had pronounced her name correctly (he didn't and neither did Missy Higgins when she thanked her for her support on the tour -- it is "Pal-Oh" rather than "Pal-Lot") , and while perusing over Asda prices in my local supermarket, I was singing Damascus down the aisles as I heard it played in the store. Ah ... domesticated bliss!

Back to her Martin, Nerina left the crowd wanting more, chanting for an encore. It won't be long when Nerina will be back and able to fulfil that requirement -- the next time as headliner.

- Rambles
written by Risa Duff
published 18 June 2005

Buy it from