The pews of the Scandinavian Church are packed out on a sweltering night: NASHER is back in his hometown for a solo intimate gig of old songs and new. Musically, Brian Nash has been the most prolific former member of Frankie Goes To Hollywood since the band’s demise. With three solo albums under his belt, and another in the can for release later this year, this evening he takes a seat in front of the altar to deliver a mix of material, songs of love, anger, restraint and protest. Intolerant of intolerance in all its forms, and with a finely honed and unforgiving sense of social justice and an innate ‘one love’ philosophy, he’s ready to tackle prejudice wherever he finds it. Much of the new album, 4,3,2, One: Opening The Vein, floats around these themes, and if, to use the obvious reference given the location, this is some sort of sermon, then this tightly packed crowd are already converted.
It is noted with a heavy heart by several here that there are far too few protest songs being written right now, at a time when there’s much to be protested – more than ever before, some would argue – so songs like Nasher’s Prostitutes And Cocaine, dedicated here to its subject matter, George Osborne and that photo, are warmly welcomed, and delivered with Nash’s characteristic snarl. As a resident of North London for the last few decades, he finds the relentless rebuilding of the capital, which he characterises as being led by “the cranes of greed”, filling the city with towers of luxury, and, more importantly, empty homes. With another new song, Where Will The Kids Live?, the anger is all too clear. There’s a pain in the vocal lines of this new work, a howl for truth, and the guitar ringing out around this beautiful space brings added drama to reinforce the many valid points.
Yesterday’s News, based around the prejudice he sees and hears in the tabloids and the lack of humanity in overheard conversations about the Syrian refugee crisis, of it all, is simply stunning. This is real, accomplished, sensitive and intuitive songwriting, again highlighted by this special setting, amplified by the reactive acoustics. It’s a harsh and honest portrayal of the unforgiving narrowness in the minds of some.
There is, perhaps inevitably, a nod to his former musical life, with a beautiful and sublime version of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood classic The Power Of Love, with his sparse and well-spaced guitar playing met his powerful and soulful vocal, soaring around the roof space above the crowd. It’s not often you see a standing ovation in a church; this song brings the first of several and for good reason.
This is Nasher’s first show in the city since the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests, which brings about a powerful and emotional tribute with a cover of the Pink Floyd song Fearless. Utterly suitable in its choice, its layer upon layer of looped guitar and towering vocal provides a perfect, climactic end to this very special performance from a much-loved son of the city, with this dedicated congregation, again, on their feet.