Nicole Atkins at The Slaughtered Lamb

16 May , 2012   Gallery

Nicole Atkins at The Slaughtered Lamb, Clerkenwell, London

I came to Nicole Atkins late, via David Byrne Radio in 2008, and she’s been on my playl­ist ever since. Born Neptune, New Jersey, did the usual ellipt­ical, form­at­ive stuff, formed Nicole Atkins & The Sea, released a ter­rific debut album, Neptune City, pro­duced by Tore Johansson, in late 2007, sub­sequent part­ing of the ways with Columbia and oth­ers, another album, Mondo Amore, and this unplugged gig in rainy Clerkenwell.

Downstairs at The Slaughtered Lamb is a dark, air­less place and I didn’t see her appear out of the gloom until she plugged her acous­tic gui­tar into the PA on the small patch of leo­pard-pat­terned car­pet that was the entire per­form­ance area. After the over­flow­ing orches­tra­tion of Neptune City and the raw, swampy Mondo Amore, could a girl with a gui­tar still slay us?

Well, yes, she could. Kicked off with Maybe Tonight, a simple strum, and her voice nailed it from the start. It’s an old-school voice, straight and true, no over-dec­or­a­tion, no warb­ling. She’s good with the audi­ence, which is handy since they are about a yard in front of her nose, a little banter and a plea for a cold beer melt our London chill.

The beer was pro­cured and bought a bit­ter-sweet The Way It Is, and a fan’s earlier Twitter request for Bleeding Diamonds had her relearn­ing a track she hasn’t touched since 2006. Her set included Hotel Plaster, Cry, Cry, Cry, Tower and the unre­leased Call Me The Witch.

She gave us an encore of Orbison’s Crying, via kd lang, fluffed the D+ chord and winged it charm­ingly. The gig gets an A+ from me.

Nicole Atkins live, 9<sup class="ordinal">th</sup> May 2012, at The Slaughtered Lamb, 34–35 Great Sutton Street EC1V 0DX. Photos and Words: © Ken Sparkes. All Rights Reserved


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