Friday, December 01, 2006

Nina Nastasia, Komedia, Brighton, 29.11.2006

Seeing Nina Nastasia do I Say That I Will Go on Wednesday was like finally getting to see the uncut bootleg of some seventies Italian serial killer movie. On the album version, she lets her voice move in its usual heartbreakingly lissome way, but on stage, for that one song, she dropped it to a low, droning, psychotic monotone, and you just knew someone was coming to get you.

The rest of the gig wasn't so scary, which was both a disappointment and a relief. Nastasia, sprinted through songs from (I think) all four of her albums – with, of course, a bias towards September's On Leaving, from which One Old Woman was particularly beautiful - plus quite a few promising new ones. As on record, her bandmates (on accordion, cello, piano, bass, guitar, and drums) were like good friends: supportive but never intrusive.

Early on, she teased us by asking if we thought she should move to Brighton, but cut down on the banter after concluding she was 'too drunk to talk' – and indeed there was something remarkable about the way that, when she spoke, she sometimes mumbled and tailed off, but when she was singing, she was flawless, even when she came back out for a low-key unaccompanied encore.

I first heard Nastasia on John Peel's show, and I expect it's largely because of his support – she did six Peel sessions - that she comes to the UK so often. Having said that, a lot of people last night were really there for anti-folk wag Jeffrey Lewis, who performed the hilarious fifth part (China) of his long-running, cartoon-illustrated History of Communism.

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