Nadine Khouri – Live

Old Chapel St. Pancras – 26/06/2013
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Nadine Khouri played at the Old Church at St. Pancras. For anyone who has never had the pleasure of attending this venue, it is exactly as it’s name suggest, a tiny chapel just outside Kings X. It’s the kind of venue best suited for artists like Nadine Khouri, and her brand of stark, slow-core tales of love and spirituality.

Nadine is accompanied by Ruban Byrne on guitar and mostly plays Ukulele, and sometimes guitar, and occasional keyboard. As an artist she is very quiet and candid on stage, but when in full voice has the capacity to hold the entire audience to a whisper.

Beginning with ‘You Got A Fire’, with its delicately plucked strings and stark arrangement, it’s an incredibly beautiful love song. It’s dreamy, while being quite intense. It sets the mood perfectly for what to come. It’s louder crescendo rings through the church with amazing acoustics.

Next up, ‘Jerusalem Blue’ starts out as a quiet, and almost acapella, it slowly buildings with violin and piano to a huge epic track. Khouri has flashes of an amazing jazz vocal throughout, and really infects the track with a dark soul which resonates around the room.

Taken from last years ‘A Song to the City’ EP, ‘Blue of Princes’ could be considered one of the most avent garde moments of the set, and from sumptuous strings to what feels like a poetry reading. It’s a set where anything goes, and the audience will bask in whatever is on offer.

After a haunting, pensive intro ‘The Hours’ becomes a delicate acoustic number. Where Khouri works best in within the telling of a story and playing the protagonist, which is no better demonstrated than here. Here is a tale of love lost and yearning. This is one of those tracks that plays out like a film, and you can’t help but be carried away as the story unfolds. It’s like she has the ability to transport her audience into the track itself. It’s an incredible and rare skill. For me, this was the one of the standout tracks of the evening.

Closing the main set with ‘Salted Air’, this is another cinematic track brimming with mood and atmosphere. Lyrics flow like poetry, and the complexity of the delivery blindsides the audience as moments of silence are punctuated throughout the track. You could hear a pin drop. Khouri’s voice is compliments the very delicate and sparse use of strings and chords. It’s beautiful beyond belief.

As encore we are treated to Luna Nera’s One (Laplace’s Demon). It’s not a track I’m familiar with, but it’s certainly one which complements Khouri’s talents as a singer incredible well.

Nadine Khouri is one of those artists that demands to be listened to with every ounce of attention in the room. Even in her accapella moments, and times of off-beat silence and slow-build, the audience is held to her every movement. Hearing her is almost a religious experience, and how fitting that tonights show be held in a small chapel. The depth of her song writing and ability to turn chords and changes evokes something deep within the listener, and I look forward to seeing her play again soon.

Mike Conyard

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