For what was our first live show in 18 months, the Café/Bar at St Georges, a former Georgian church in central Bristol, was a great setting. This was the last of four sold-out shows celebrating the launch of Lady Nade’s excellent third album ‘Willing’. And that album provided most of the setlist for tonight. With her versatile three-piece band of Bristol musicians; Dan Everett, on bass and guitar, Sean Snook on electric and lap steel guitars and Holly Carter on pedal steel, double bass, percussion and a gorgeous Gretsch guitar, Lady Nade played the new album in order, interspersed with ‘Sweet Honey Bee’ and Safe Place’ from her second album.
These last two show how far her music has come since that album. Her songwriting is more assured and, as my companion pointed out, she is a far more confident singer live. In the past her sound has been compared to Nina Simone, but the time spent working on these new songs has helped her find her unique voice. ‘One Sided’, ‘Wildfire’, and encore, ‘Ain’t One Thing’, which are some of the strongest songs on the album, shone on stage.
For someone dealing in pretty weighty subject matter in her songs, the between-song chat was light, probably helped by the home town show with plenty of support in the audience. She describes herself as “eclectic Americana Folk,” and the Americana side of her sound is more apparent in a live setting than on record with the pedal steel of the excellent Holly Carter being more prominent. Her bandmates excelled themselves as well. Sean Snook’s electric guitar blended with Carter well, and Dan Everett’s backing vocals were a good balance to Lady Nade’s rich voice. An hour and a half went by very fast and in the way of the best live shows, left the audience wanting more. A brisk trade at the merchandise stand afterwards was good to see.
If you haven’t heard ‘Willing’ then you should, and definitely catch Lady Nade live when she comes to your town. As a first step back to live music this was a relaxed, enjoyable evening. The venue and audience got the Covid safe part right. Next time she plays at home, I think Lady Nade will be in the main hall of St Georges’ with its wonderful acoustics. I’ll book my ticket now please.