There were four acts on the bill at the second Fat Cat Records night at the Theatre Royal in Brighton - the middle two Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad were both enjoyable enough guitar rock bands...but they weren't the reason we were there. The first act Silje Nes also was not the reason we were there but was interesting and different enough to deserves more than a cursory comment.
Silje makes sweet and mostly quiet layered music using guitars a violin various bits of percussion and a loop pedal or two so that she could play them all at the same time...almost like a one woman band only she was accompanied by another musician who also had many instruments (drum kit, guitar, melodica and various other bits of percussion) and a loop pedal. Her voice and some of the gentler sounds were reminiscent of Little Star era Stina Nordenstam but the performance was unique and the songs were lovely and the wig-out that featured in one of them was perfect...the way a wig-out during a quiet set should be ((old) Low and (more recent) The Clientele do lovely wig-outs when quiet is what's expected).
Nina Nastasia was the reason we were there, the bit of paper at the bar implied that she had set that should have started at 10 and finished at 10:40 - a weekend in Brighton for a 40 minute set might seem a little extreme but this was Nina whose five albums contain no sign of a dud track and whose voice I never tire of. But still...40 minutes...
She arrived on stage, sat down with a pen and a piece of paper and asked for requests - jotted down the shouted song titles (or near song titles or extracts of lyrics) and that was the setlist. And she played...it was a relief when she said "I have to be off by eleven" because by the time she started it was beginning to look like we mightn't get more than 30 minutes...a more talented person could think of better words thant stunning or sensational to describe the set, the singing and the playing but that's all I have to offer - the sight of me open mouthed and on the edge of my seat for most of the performance might have made a more impressive description of just how good this was. So relaxed and funny and comfortable - Nina was in very fine form.
By eleven o'clock a fair chunk of the setlist was still unplayed...so she just kept on playing. She went off when she thought she probably ought ("I don't want to get anyone in trouble") but the audience weren't going to let her get away so easily and despite the house lights coming up she was (literally) shoved back onto the stage for more...quite a lot more. I suspect that she would have played all night given the opportunity but by 11:25 the Theatre staff were obviously wanting out and the house lights came up again and Nina left us. An hour and a quarter and one of the most enjoyable gigs I've been to made the trip to cold and rainy Brighton more than worthwhile.