Words by Tom Frodsham
A refreshed Nina Nesbitt visited Manchester’s Deaf Institute on Wednesday night as part of a short tour promoting her new EP, Modern Love.
Former indie girl Nina has undergone something of a reinvention for 2016, with a new look and sound to match. Gone is the guitar-led, quirky pop, replaced by a sleek, sophisticated and darker look. Her sound is now more in the synthpop domain, with new tracks featuring thick, heavy beats with an 80s electropop vibe.
At the sold out venue, Nesbitt opened up with an oldie but goodie, ‘The Apple Tree’, lifting the audience from the start. It’s the track that first caught the attention of Ed Sheeran back in 2012, when Nesbitt ended up supporting Sheeran on his tour.
She went on to showcase new material with tracks like ‘West End Weekend’ and the powerful mid-tempo banger, ‘People In Love’. Considering the relatively small size of the venue, Nesbitt made the most of the stage space, blasting through every track with a newfound confidence.
The audience were kept on their toes by a mixture of old and new hits, as well as covers. A debut album track, ‘Mr C’, craftily blended with Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ and The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. Even before the encore, you could sense that Nesbitt’s voice was waning, so on reappearing she asked us all to contribute to the vocals due to her “crackly voice”. Naturally, a Manchester audience doesn’t need asking twice, helping her through the last two tracks. Nesbitt ended the night on a high with her powerful new single, ‘Chewing Gum’, a catchy track that could herald her long awaited breakthrough.
It’s obvious Nesbitt’s record label, Universal, is gearing her up for the mainstream this year. Her new look says it all. Not only is the frizzy hair gone – replaced with a chic bob and minimalist fashion – but there’s also her new sound. In an industry swamped with female solo artists, the Scottish singer songwriter’s quirky composing skills afford her as good a chance as anyone for gaining wider recognition. This is 2016, so if she’s not overshadowed by the RiRis and Gagas out for a comeback, then Nesbitt could be in for a promising year.
Nina Nesbitt’s Modern Love EP is out in February, with a second album due out in the summer.