Eleanor Nelly – ‘Circles’ Liverpool Gig Review

The effervescent Eleanor Nelly put on quite the show on Saturday night. With support from Harry Miller and Ellis Murphy, the Liverpool trio brought quite the eclectic Country mix to Leaf on Bold Street. Performing to a mixed crowd of eager listeners and good-time Saturday nighters, their music split nicely between the reflective and the pulsating to offer something for everyone, regardless of taste.

Harry Miller stepped up to the mic first, standing on the Folk end of Rock; producing a sound reminiscent of Oasis but with a distinct Kelly Jones vocal; touching the edges of Americana, as per the Stereophonics-frontman’s new band Far From Saints. With a self-confessed set of “sad songs” nevertheless demonstrating Miller’s super songwriting, his was an opening set of heart-on-sleeve, melodiously-melancholic stuff.

Ellis Murphy, to some contrast, grounded himself more firmly in Folk, clearly influenced by Bob Dylan but displaying a wizened voice of youth. Think Jake Bugg but less of the Pop, as he played old Irish tunes and early Country songs, complete with harmonica to accompany the guitar. It was a fine display of contemporising classics without straying too far from their roots.

The two male artists laid the ground well for the aforementioned Nelly, whose headline set protruded into the crowd with rock star swagger whilst retaining Country’s vulnerability for “three chords and the truth”. After an opening section which defiantly announced her arrival on stage, including a tub-thumping rendition of ‘Colour Blind’, the set proceeded to showcase the breadth of her sound. It ranged from the modern Country-pop of ‘Eventually’ (with Kelsea Ballerini overtones) to the classic sound of Americana-infused ‘Takes a Fool’. To go from the tongue-in-cheek humour of ‘Good Guy’ to the heartfelt ‘Polaroid’, via the anthemic ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, demonstrated the extent of her musical intuition. She is not bound by genre but, like the best songwriters, knows what serves the song best. It is how she skipped from filling ‘Goodbye’ with plaintive attitude to giving ‘Seventeen’ the acoustic space it needed to emotionally breathe.

To end the set with ‘Circles’, thus making reference to the neon curve acting as the backdrop behind, and ‘Time to be Alive’, with its full-on Country-rock, meant a fitting finale to an energetic and at times electrifying show. It evidenced Country’s ability to speak across divides, affording opportunities to listen deeply to the lyrics whilst being able to dance away to the music’s infectious beats. This is what makes Eleanor Nelly such a great artist. She knows how to speak into your heart whilst making sure you have a damn good time.

Social media: @eleanor_nelly

Review written by Gareth Williams (twitter.com/lostinbluejazz1)

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