Nina Nesbitt @ Club Academy, Manchester

Nina Nesbitt is one of those artists that feels so much larger than life yet there’s something so down-to-earth and relatable about her. Something that draws people to her. One thing I noticed about this gig was the range of people attending. It really feels like her music connects with people from all walks of life. Her new album, Älskar is one of my favourite albums of 2022. Her mastery of pop hooks mixed with deeply personal lyrics connects with people on such a level they turn up to her live shows in droves. I have reviewed Nina twice now for WeShootMusic and this third time it feels like seeing a whole new artist once again. I was quite excited to see this show. A new album means a revamped setlist, a newfound energy and a new list of songs for people to fall in love with as we hear them in a new way in Nina’s performance.

Opening up the show was the smooth musical stylings of Ruby Walvin. I ultimately enjoyed this performance. It was pretty low-key but sometimes that’s a good thing. I liked the gentle melodies and beautiful harmonies. She had good chemistry with her backing guitarist and I liked the gentle sounds coming from the stage. I felt like this was a nice opening to the evening. It was a pretty chill way to let people into the venue. It had a very coffee shop, lounge music vibe to it. Ruby’s vocals were excellent. Her voice felt quite delicate and she sang with a lot of conviction. Especially on the song “The Game”. A song that she wrote about her treatment for leukaemia. A song, that felt pretty powerful for her to come forward with. As I said, this was a really pleasant way for things to open up the night and really fitting for what was to come.

The next performer on stage was the talented and mesmerising, Katelyn Tarver. A real treat for the ears. She was so charming and bubbly. Her charisma was infectious. Her voice was light and airy, but man, when she wanted to put some power behind her voice she knew how to. Coming from LA, this was her first time performing the Manchester. She appeared to be so grateful to have the opportunity to be in the UK. She was clearly passionate about her songs and delivered them with a soulful charm that lit up the whole room. Her music was a nice blend of folksy pop and artsy easy listening. Not a bad little treat all in all. Her guitarist twanged notes and chords elevated her vocal performance. I think the moment of the set everyone will be talking about is her cover of Paramore’s “The Only Exception” which was a magical performance of the tune. An excellent set and I know if she ever comes back to Manchester, she will be greeted with open arms.

Finally, the time came for the star of the show. Nina shone like an absolute star in Manchester. It’s amazing I’ve seen her perform live four times now and every single time she manages to reinvent herself and her music to fit the mood of the evening. Her set consisted of full band pieces and acoustic numbers. When the full band kicked in the energy went full-on high gear. The crowd was singing along and the vibe of the room felt generally great. Songs like “Teenage Chemistry”, “Colder” and “Limited Edition” were excellent as Nina played a lot with call and response with the audience. Holding the microphone to the crowd as the crowd sang the lyrics back at her. Manchester is always a great night out.  Manchester audiences are just a different vibe from anywhere else and this night was no exception.

Nina had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. She had such great crowd control. The way she talks to the crowd, it feels like she’s just catching up with old friends. She speaks on such a human level making the night that little bit more intimate. The set then moved into the acoustic portion. This is where some of the most heartfelt moments of the set lay. She performed my personal favourite song from the new album “I Should Be A Bird” which was performed so beautifully and wholesomely.

Her voice was so rich and you could hear the emotion imbued into the lyrics. Another part of the acoustic set that I liked was “Heirlooms” which has a beautiful sentiment behind it. Also, she played the opening to “ Last December” which lead nicely into “Colours Of You” seeing as it’s the emotional sequel song.

Wrapping up the main part of the set was the, what I would like to call, heavy hitters portion of the show. Here she played the bigger hits. Including the heart-rendering “When You Lose Someone”, The catchy pop tune “Loyal To Me”, and the bangers that are “Love Letter” and “Chewing Gum”. She ended the show with the songs “Life’s a Bitch” and “Cry Dancing”. Which was a real hype way to close the main set. Obviously, that wasn’t it. She had the encore. Which consisted of her best songs “Is It Really Me You’re Missing” and “The Best You Had”. Which actually closed the show and sent the crowd home happy. Nina is a one-of-a-kind performer.

She’s charming, charismatic, personable and talented as heck. She is such a gem. I love her music and every single time I see her live I continue to be impressed. If you ever have the opportunity to see her, take my advice and do it. You will not be disappointed.

Words by Mick Birchall 

Photos by Philip Goddard 

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