Nat Johnson and The Figureheads and Standard Fare: Memorial Hall, Sheffield

The very talented Nat Johnson brought her band The Figureheads to the lovely Memorial Hall to promote her 2nd album release with her current out entitled I’m Across, I’m Ashore. It turned out, predictably, not be a conventional gig but more of that later.

Nat came to prominence as lead singer and main creative force of the excellent Monkey Swallows The Universe, which also featured long term cohort and Figurehead Kevin Gori. After 5 years of much critical acclaim on a national level, she stunned many by taking a hiatus which turned out to be permanent and struck out on her own, firstly solo playing with looped music including a very good solo debut at the sadly missed Grapes, then with her current line up.

Always one for travelling a different path her latest, first class album was partly paid for by the Pledgemusic.com project where fans pledge money for various goodies like the original album artwork etc. Recorded at 2Fly with local legend Alan Smyth it turned into a concept album about Nat’s inability to be able to write and play music for a living, without the need for another job.

Support tonight came from an abridged version of Standard Fare, Derbyshire invaders focussed on the wonderful vocals of Emma Kupa. A delightful form of soft rock / pop the pick of a very entertaining set was perhaps Fifteen, though Darth Vader hit the spot too.

 

With the audience taken unaware Nat and Kevin began performing unplugged from the balcony above the packed venue below and had got a fair way through the song before the rest of us realised then Nat introduced a video showing the background to the making of the album.

When they finally graced the stage she immediately began taking the crowd on a journey of catchy musical soundscapes with clever lyrics delivered in her usual emotive tones. Straw and Hay got an early airing as did one of the highlights Astronomy and the laid back I Know I’m Good was a crowd pleaser. The Scottish Song, an update of old MSTU fave Sheffield Shanty, also did the biz.

Overall a great set, which is the norm for Miss Johnson, though she never looks as confident as she should be given her musical prowess, that’s one of the things her fan base loves, just a normal young woman who happens to have a special talent. This could well be the album Nat and her top band of musicians needs to take the next step and get the exposure they undoubtedly deserve.