Natalie Prass – The Future and the Past


Natalie Prass is familiar with the time it takes to release an album into the world. Her debut was ready to go in early 2012, but was shelved for some three years because her friend and label boss Matthew E. White was amidst the promotion of his own first album and their resources were limited. This time around, Prass had finished writing a new set of material, ready to record when Trump won the election. Devastated by the result, Prass set about writing a brand new set of songs, driven by anger and a renewed determination to fight for what she believes in.

The album still isn’t out as she arrives at Band on the Wall tonight, but two songs have been released in advance. They both hint at a change in direction, but as her set proves, the scale of the change is perhaps even greater than anticipated. Where the first record was dripping in dramatic string arrangements and heartbroken vocals, The Future and the Past is a tight, old school R&B record, with a smaller, fiery in-house band at its core, to match the fire in her new material.

Opener tonight ‘Oh My’ and ‘Hot for the Mountain’ (which Prass recently named as her favourite of the new ones) are the best representations of the change in sound, with guitarist Alan Parker especially revelling in his role. His wiry, staccato leads give the songs a kinetic, spicy energy, and when the familiar strains of ‘Sisters’ and ‘Short Court Style’ hit, the crowd bursts into life.

That said, it is a curiously polite audience early on – something actually acknowledged by Prass’ bassist at one stage – but with Prass’ relaxed, unpretentious conversational style between songs setting everyone at ease, Band on the Wall soon settles into a more responsive mood. It is reciprocated, with Prass actually dusting off her teenage tap dancing days for a mini impromptu performance, although even she admits she’s a little rusty. The same absolutely cannot be said of her performance of tracks from the first album, with ‘Your Fool’ and ‘Why Don’t You Believe In Me’ standing out in particular.

“Let’s all scream as loud as we can after three,” she instructs us towards the end of the main set, and by then we are putty in her hands. For the final track before a brief departure, she requests that the stage lights are killed, and the band proceed to play their most seductive and grinding song to date, ‘Ain’t Nobody’, which will conclude the new album.

She is back as soon as she is gone, and when someone shouts out, “Shall we all start crying?” it seems like a joke. And then she plays ‘Violently’ in duet with Parker and it damn near comes true. She tells us that after today she feels like she could live in Manchester, before embarking on the night’s final track, the magical, filmic ‘It Is You’, something it genuinely feels she plays just for us. In a short amount of time, a real emotional rapport has been built tonight. With the new album’s release imminent, the bond will only get stronger.

Natalie Prass: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.