There was an amazing buzz as I approached The Cluny, one of the venues where Nadine Shah “cut me teeth and the places that give me and so many others a reason to get up for everyday.” I was ecstatic to be there as having seen Nadine perform a few times in recent years she gives such an intense performance that gets right into your mind. I nearly didn’t make the night as it was actually sold out before I sorted myself a ticket so it was a privilege to be asked by the Mercury Prize nominee Nadine herself to cover her show as part of the seventh Independent Venue Week.
IVW was founded by Sybil Bell as a celebration of independently owned and run music venues and long time supporter, BBC Radio 6 presenter Steve Lamacq curated a Homecoming tour, taking 5 artists to 5 grass roots venues that helped them on their journey to becoming the artists that they are now. Self Esteemed played The Leadmill in Sheffield, then Gruff Rhys joined at Cwb Ifor Bach and Frank Turner at Exeter Cavern with Anna Calvi wrapping it up at The Windmill in Brixton.
Although buzzing it was also relaxed in the 300 capacity venue where many gathered for drinks in the bar before showtime, including Nadine herself and everyone just let her be. The room was almost full for the opening set by One True Pairing but 20mins before the main show it was becoming a hot and sweaty affair. I spoke to a few people as we waited and for some it was the first time seeing Nadine and you just felt the excitement building up. I even got chatting briefly to Big Jeff before I knew it was Big Jeff. For those of you who actually don’t know who Big Jeff is either, he is a giant in every sense of the word as he towers over my 5 foot 1 frame by a lot and his personality and smile is infectious. He is also recognisable as he was bang centre at the foot of the stage sketching all night. Big Jeff is also well known to the IVW family as he has ‘toured’ with them for the last three years and if you are Bristol based you probably know him too.
Another thing that added to this buzz this night was seeing many familiar faces gathered at this gig. Nadine is basically a North East darling on the music scene and we are proud of her and to share this pride with those I can call friends is an immense feeling. There was also a whose who in the crowd too as Kathryn Williams was spotted as was Maximo Parks’ Paul Smith and BBC Introducing North East presenter Nick Roberts and Charlie Dancer the face of leading music development agency Tipping Point to name a few.
Lights down and smoke filled the stage as band members walked on followed by Nadine with a grin on her face and a quick swig of drink and then BAM it’s show time. Each song is performed with such vigour as the crowd watch and listen with enthusiasm. Nadine is relaxed between change of songs and there are laughs on stage as well as to the crowd. She smiles between these exchanges and you can actually feel her passion as she talks about IVW and her early gigs at The Cluny. We get the best of her back catalogue and then some exclusives of new material. She is pumped and we are pumped and it feels so much more in this intimate crowd. Nadine has a big following and she is very humble to her roots although her work means she is based elsewhere. In 2018 she curated a tour for IVW with her championing Skinny Girl Diet and two years later she gets to headline the opening night of Steve Lamacq’s Homecoming tour. Nadine is a huge advocate of IVW as these were ‘the only venues (she) could play starting out’ and that they have ‘so much more character.’ She understands and never forgets the struggles of making it. You feel this in every second of her performance and even when she leaves the stage she speaks to anyone and everyone that is waiting to talk to her and/or have a photo. Steve Lamacq hangs around too and is equally as charming. These small venues allow the artist and the music fan get close to each other and the love feels genuine. The joy of Independent Venue Week is that you get a mix of up-and-coming artists to the established artists all joining for the love of live music in these small intimate places where it all started. What a cause for celebration and what a night with Nadine Shah at one of Newcastle’s gems of live music.
GALLERY COMING SOON