Natalie Evans


There is a dreamlike start to Bonniesongs’ set. An array of ethereal layered vocals are intertwined. It is vast, especially for a singular artist on stage. It is like a Sigur Ros track, transporting you to a tundra, or mountain top but wrapping you warm in the expanse with Bonnie’s enticing, almost Kulning style voice. A strong opening that becomes more powerful still as the vocal loops are left to fend for themselves and Bonnie moves onto the tribal drum beats on a tom and snare. Opening track ‘123’ merges into ‘Coo Coo’ with a firm, steady riff over the ever building layers. The transition is a rugged climb as the guitar has a slight crunch to it compared to the recorded counterpart on her latest release ‘Energetic Minds’.

The next song in the opening set is ‘Frank.’ There are hints of Emma Ruth Rundle in it’s dark chords and ghostly vocals. It is a fantastic performance. Even with the sombre sounds of this track and the hazily enchanting vocals put forward by Bonnie, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. As is most apparent in the song ‘Ice Cream’, which includes no metaphor or gravitas, but is just a nice summer song about vanilla ice cream. Bonniesongs has been a wonderful opening act with impeccable loop assisted self-harmonising. A Neapolitan set, varied, but made of all the best musical flavours.

Natalie Evans can be likened to Joanna Newsom on a diet of midwestern emo and honest indie folk. The comparisons don’t end at the use of a harp. The ability to weave beautiful, sometimes surreal stories are of equal stature too. Natalie’s fingers float across the strings during opening song ‘Under the Moon’. Each note is clear and radiant, as is her voice that enraptures the room. The harp on stage is rather small, perfect for the more intimate settings of the Castle Hotel.

Natalie moves over to the acoustic guitar for the short and wistful ‘Better at Night.’ This delicate track makes way for the bouncier ‘Hard to Forget’. Often also compared to Yvette Young, her acoustic slides and doodling are as amazing to witness as her harp mastery, but with more open tuned slides than fast finger taps, the charmingly innocent songs are more akin to that of the Kinsella brothers.

‘In Trees’ is a vibrant track, and my favourite of the night. With a light and sprightly central riff, it feels full of simplistic exuberant life. It brings a nostalgic air to the room, encapsulating thoughts of spring and youth. The set finishes with an impromptu encore of ‘Gymnastics’, requested by the crowd. It is not often that an encore is actually unplanned and not just a fake-out, but having checked the setlists of other cities, Manchester is the chosen place to be graced by this delightful event. Take that Bristol!

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