Live Review

Surya Sen, Amy Michelle, pinkpirate and Nina Cobham helm Night Two of Hello 2023 at the Old Blue Last

Intimate moments and a banging finale categorised the second instalment of the series.

Where last week’s debut show in our Hello 2023 series with FairSound and the Old Blue Last provided a sweaty, hedonistic opening to January, its successor is here to show that you also need to watch out for the quiet ones that’ll sneak up and steal your heart with poise and subtlety. Case in point, Nina Cobham. Having split her adolescence between Spain and the North of England, the 21-year-old singer’s superpower is in seamlessly fusing both languages, crafting hushed, intimate stories that slip between the two - sometimes within the space of a sentence. Playing with only an acoustic guitarist to back her, she’s an understatedly strong presence that commands attention with zero whistles and bells. Instead, the gentle bossa nova lilt of recent single ‘What Is This?’ draws comparison to Billie Eilish’s softest moments - a superstar who’s also proved you don’t have to shout the loudest to make yourself heard.

The casual observer would never know that tonight marks the debut live outing for Bognor Regis-born pinkpirate in their current form (and their first live show of any kind in three years). A one person band, Caitlin Brown’s set-up finds them flitting between the guitar and laptop, building hypnotic layers of heady alt-pop live as they go; musically, the likes of ‘Daisy’ and ‘Can We Talk About the Past instead?’ could happily file next to The Japanese House or early-Shura; shimmering shadows of emotions, with a nostalgia that belies their years.

The most pin-drop crowd of the evening comes courtesy of Ireland’s Amy Michelle. With a bleached-blonde heavy fringe framing a head of jet black hair, you might not expect the music that comes from the emo-aestheticised singer to be so sparse and restrained, but there’s real nuance and emotion within these seemingly-simple wares. Tracks from last year’s debut EP ‘is that all there is?’ are delivered in an almost-whisper at points; if there’s a criticism, it’s that the dynamics could be pushed further, the crescendo of certain tracks capped by their low on-stage mix. But that’s something that’s easy to remedy - more important is the bones of the songs, which are already full of promise.

It’s a switch up in tone for tonight’s headliner Surya Sen, who puts a lid on the previous mood of quiet attentiveness and replaces it with a set full of club-ready beats. Backed by a woozy screen of undulating visuals and joined for a climactic closer by rapper Di-Vincent for a track that, it appears, he probably shouldn’t have debuted but decided to regardless, highlights ‘Earn It’ and ‘Jessica’ are a bop-filled way to close out the night. Onwards, then, to Week Three…"}]

Tags: Hello 2023, Neu, Reviews, Live Reviews

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