Introduction: Indiana played her first gig at the recent NUSIC weekender in a search for the opener for Splendour to an unsuspecting crowd gaining huge acclaim, none more heartfelt than from tonight’s fellow musician, Nina Smith. With appearances on BBC’s The Beat and a trip to EMI in London since, it’s clear to see this talent could go far-and fast!
Opening with a delicate and beautifully crafted cover of Rui De Silva’s Touch Me, Indiana shimmers into life with a slightly nervous but charming style. Erase follows; a haunting, flowing track that reverberates around the room. An encapsulating performance with vocals that would draw comparisons to Sarah McLachlan leaves an awestruck room in complete silence.
There’s nothing complicated about Indiana’s music, it just delivers. With smooth pads and sensual strings, it’s blends and grows and resonates intensely. A cover Frank Ocean’s Swim Good shows a keen ear for putting her stamp on established tracks. Her exceptional performance, whilst slightly fragile to watch, is incredibly enchanting and from here, the future looks very bright for Indiana indeed.
Nina Smith needs no introduction. Her collaborations with various artists over the past couple of years has bridged genres and given her a rounded and widely accessible sound. Now, with her quickly growing fan base and a recently announced European tour imminent, she’s likely to become even busier.
Tonight, accompanied by Just James’ very own beat box extraordinaire, Motormouf, her set takes on a familiar aspect of diversity. After delivering her opening track Start Over, the audience are instantly left guessing with an excellent cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy. It’s easy to see how Nina Smith has become one of the most bankable gigs in town, with her pure vocals and a real brightness on tracks such as Please Remember My Name, which has an air of despair, nevertheless echoes with hope.
Flowers, is another summer sounding classic with a beautiful melody and with the transition from young naivety to dealing with the pressures and pitfalls of the uphill battle of life once the bubble has seemingly burst.
The biggest applause of the night so far is for Nina’s collaboration with headliner Rob Green on This Ain’t A Test. A song they have barely performed live but manage to be effortlessly comfortable in each other’s harmonies, Green’s voice giving a new soulful edge to the set and those that have followed the progress of the artistes collaborations can’t help but be left impressed.
The night reaches its finale with Nottingham’s Mr Soul, Rob Green. His much anticipated entrance to a now packed house is a sign of his rise to the very pinnacle of the gig scene in the city over the last year.
Opening tracks Full Circle and Homegrown Superhero are beaty acoustic ballads offering an early glimpse in to his style; a reflection of an effortlessly modest persona on stage and his undeniably superb vocal. The chemistry between Rob Green and his incredible guitarist, Giles, really adds a flavour of intensity to the performance. With favourites Heartbroken and Underdog they really get the room bouncing with a hip-talk rhythm and driven vocal.
Without doubt, the climax of the set has to be Playing with Fire. With sharp, double-quick lyrics and truly stunning demonstration of his voice range, Rob Green is home and dry with this track.
With a truly unique venue to watch a top night of music, this really could not have been upstaged. The artists performing tonight represent a very exciting time in the city. A sound piece of advice; if you haven’t done so already, make sure you catch these singers sometime this summer where possible. With London and even Europe beckoning, it’s nice to know that Nottingham, our Nottingham, will always be their home.
Rob Green, Nina Smith and Indiana played at Alea Casion on Friday 25 May 2012.