REVIEW: Nat Johnson & The Figureheads, Memorial Hall

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FORMERLY of folk-pop band Monkey Swallows The Universe, Nat’s been called as integral to the Sheffield scene as Jarvis Cocker - and tonight there’s no doubt she’s where she belongs, on stage in the Memorial Hall, at Sheffield City Hall.

After a brief song on the balcony above the audience and an introductory video, depicting the making of latest album I’m Across, I’m Ashore, Nat and band launch into the catchy Astronomy.

My problem with some of the newer material is it doesn’t feel as raw as Roman Radio, the début album. That’s not to call Roman Radio unpolished, but I’m Across, I’m Ashore – and the offerings from the What The Heart Pours Into EP – lack the edge and definition of previous songs. While it stays nicely in the twee, folk-rock genre that Nat and her band do so well, it never quite manages to push past that.

Introducing Sheffield Shanty as “the first of two songs about Sheffield”, however, the performance starts to pick up. The lively shanty showcases all the best bits of Nat’s musical skills, and the new line-up of the Figureheads are backing her at every opportunity.

The night only improves from there, with one song after another keeping the audience’s interest as Nat’s haunting voice provides the perfect complement to charming, clever songs.

The encore ends with the catchy Your Majesty, which sees Nat wearing a jaunty crown on her head.