It’s a cold November night, but there is a warm sense of anticipation surrounding Thekla, as the crowds flock aboard to pack out the boat, all here to see one man, Natty. As he will later state himself, he’s been away for a while, working on new material, and journeying the US, but is finally touring the UK once again. He receives a rapturous, if not slightly, comically intoxicated introduction from a member of his entourage. He finally enters the stage to massive cheers, and stares out into the crowd with almost a sense of arrogance, before bursting into his own personal brand of reggae soul, opening with a track from his new EP Change.

He exclaims that he “always enjoys coming back to Bristol” before unleashing one of his bigger hits, ‘Cold Town’, onto the crowd, creating an ecstatic response. Yet it is not until he rolls into most notable song ‘Bedroom Eyes’ that the crowd really gets going, practically singing the whole song for him. He interacts with the crowd well for someone who professes himself to not enjoy talking on stage too much. He takes a moment to dedicate a song to one of the producers from his debut album, Man Like I, who sadly passed away a year after its creation, giving a stirring performance of ‘Things I’ve Done’.

A powerful, ten minute long jam-come-song follows, where he abandons his usual stance with an acoustic guitar in front of a mic stand, and dances round the stage whilst chanting into the microphone. He keeps the crowd encapsulated in what could have easily turned into an arduous experience. He clearly highlighted his talent not only as a songwriter and musician, but also a performer – something which is compounded by the fact his show sold out completely. July moves to both remind everyone of the joys of the summer just passed, but also to affirm a realisation of how long we have to wait to enjoy hot weather again.

Natty moves on to inform us that the end of the gig is near, to loud sighs of dismay from the followers, but he at least gives us something to salivate over. He states, to huge cheers, that he will be releasing a new album at some point next year, and says that whilst this is his last song, he will at least “make it last a bit”.

What follows is a powerful, extended performance of the titular track from the Change EP, with his live band staying on stage past his exit  to hang out the instrumental. His performance throughout the night can confirm that his UK “comeback” tour is a success, and leave all who experienced it with the feeling that there is a lot more to come from London-based Natty, not least the promise of a new record in 2012, which is enough to warm a few hearts as they drift off into the foggy Bristol night.

 

 

By Jack Brown