Following the release of her critically acclaimed debut album ‘For All We Know’, NAO brought her soulful approach to music to Manchester, accompanied by Jorja Smith. To begin the night, up-and-coming R&B Artist Jorja Smith, who has collaborated with popular UK artists such as Maverick Sabre, opened the night by performing ‘Where Did I Go?’ setting the soulful tone for the night perfectly. With her voice naturally having an eerie element, it complimented the unreleased songs she would go on to perform for the audience. Her best moment of the night was undoubtedly her performance of her critically acclaimed single ‘Blue Lights’.
The transition from the wonderfully dark setting created by Jorja Smith to the bouncy stage performance of NAO could not have been done more smoothly, especially as their performance styles are arguably very different. However, the change ran naturally, with NAO gradually making her way through the smoky stage to reveal herself to the full venue.
NAO’s development as an R&B singer is one that has been wonderful to hear but the most impressive aspect of her artistry is how she was able to reflect the bubbly sound engraved deep in her music into her performances. Her stage presence was unique in the sense that she naturally oozed confidence but in a refreshingly carefree manner.
The East London singer-songwriter’s effervescent style when performing made the crowd join in naturally, engaging with her confidently written songs from her personal love-life experiences. It was evident that NAO was enjoying the performance as much as the crowd enjoyed her vocals and dancing as she went off stage to join the crowd during her fantastic performance for her hit ‘Fool to Love’.
One of the most impressive aspects of her set was her ability to move between and empowering songs to more diffident performances. Each song performed was a highlight in itself as NAO ensured that she gave an exhilarating performance whether that was through her vocals, dance, or both. Throughout her performance she continued to express how shocked she was at the size of the audience who had decided to attend her gig, showing her humbleness. Astonishing performances of her singles ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Girlfriend’ made the night memorable. She ensured that the crowd remembered her for her unique vocals and refreshing combination of genres in her music; from taking electronic elements and combining soulful vocals, you simply cannot categorise NAO into one genre. Judging from her naturally energetic and carefree approach to performing, it was only right to conclude that NAO will be among the biggest stars in whichever genres she chooses to go in to in the future.
Photo credit: Kuda Mushangi