Love may be the theme of Nerina Pallot's Lonely Valentine Club Tour, which began its course with a show at the beautiful Islington Assembly Hall on Monday evening, but this is certainly no schmaltzy Valentine's affair.
By all accounts, from the mood of many of the songs played tonight, you'd be forgiven for thinking Pallot's love life is pity-worthy. The reality, however, is quite different - Pallot is happily married to record producer, Andy Chatterley, and so you soon realise that, on quite a few of the numbers aired, Pallot is mostly drawing on past experience.
Often she has been the wronged party but Pallot readily admits to also having been the one at fault, as we learn from 'It Was Me', an apology song to an ex-boyfriend with a propensity to being a bit tightfisted when out at dinner.
One of the most entertaining things about a Nerina Pallot show (aside from the music, obviously) is the chat you get between songs. Here, you learn how songs came about, what Pallot thinks of Popegate or reusable nappies as well as her views on love and relationships. Often there are wise words to be dispensed.
Treating us, amongst other things, to a live performance of the four new songs from her Lonely Valentine Club EP, Pallot’s soaring vocals are perfectly accompanied by her solo piano and guitar-playing. A highlight among the new numbers is a hastily-written composition, 'Love Is An Unmade Bed', which dissects the ins and outs of a love-affair suffering from diminishing returns. The songs on the setlist centre around the themes of unrequited love, sex and the growing domesticity between couples, which Pallot jokingly insists are most certainly not about her relationship with Chatterley.
This may sound like an evening of lamenting lost loves, yet as the rosé flows onstage and Pallot shares the horrors of her St Valentine’s Days past, there is a distinctly jovial atmosphere between the singer and the audience, who appreciate Pallot’s humorous, self-deprecating musings on love.
The new EP also includes an unexpected cover of CeCe Peniston's 1992 single 'Finally', reworked into a stripped-back, piano ballad that manages to retain the joyful declaration of a new love and is, at the same time, underlined by a sombre soundscape. Earlier in the evening, support act, Bright Light Bright Light, similarly reworks a selection of songs from his 2012 debut album, Make Me Believe in Hope, transforming his wonderful electopop songs into piano ballads that showcase the range and strength of his powerful voice.
Classics from Pallot's back catalogue given the live treatment include 'Real Late Starter', 'Everyone's Gone to War' and the wonderful 'My Last Tango' from her debut album, whilst the gloriously catchy 'Put Your Hands Up' ends the first date of the Lonely Valentine Club Tour on a definite high.
By Joe Preston Carroll