Everything about Nina Nesbitt should repel me. She’s a protégé of mewling corporate busker Ed Sheeran. Her songs, at a glance, sound ready-made for The X Factor. She once recorded an anodyne Fleetwood Mac cover for – be still, my heaving stomach – a John Lewis advert. Moulded by the faceless might of Universal, she represents everything I normally can’t stand about the music industry.
Nina Nesbitt - The Arches, Glasgow
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So imagine my surprise when, during this intimate acoustic performance, I realised how talented she actually is. On record she’s stifled by bland bubblegum production, but live her voice is a thing of soulful beauty, while her self-penned songs reveal hidden depths.
Clearly no stranger to heartbreak, this precocious 20-year-old from Edinburgh deals in yearning trills of introspective anguish, the palpable warmth and sincerity of which strike a clanging chord with her adoring female fanbase. Yet despite her winsome image, songs such as the Lily Allen co-written Mr C and the irresistibly catchy Stay Out betray a pleasingly sardonic touch.
She’s also a natural entertainer. Humble and charming, her rapport with the crowd reached its peak when she invited three fans on stage to provide backing vocals on Way In The World. As she gratefully received Christmas presents from someone in the front row, I was struck by the total lack of cynicism in the room. I’m glad I was wrong about her.
This eye-opening performance proved that, free from the constraints of ill-suited producers, Nesbitt could be a major star one day.
Seen on 05.12.14