Gig Review: Nell Mescal at The Bodega

Words: Olivia Hannant
Photos: Jim Grant
Monday 05 February 2024
reading time: min, words

Upcoming singer-songwriter from Kildare, Nell Mescal graced the stage of Nottingham’s Bodega…

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Nell’s focus on intimate yet universally relatable emotions and experiences has allowed her to carve out a distinct space and hypnotic sound, independent of her brother's influence. She began with the ballad Graduation, hushing the crowd and introducing her band. 
Following the upbeat Punchline was a spirited indie-infused track, featuring dynamic drums and glimmering guitar hooks that heightened the overall energy. But the amiable protagonist soon finds herself in need of a moment of solitude.

In this moving moment, emotions surged, swearing she wouldn’t cry but causing tears to well up in the singer's eyes. Scanning the room to acknowledge a diverse audience, commenting on the last time she had visited The Bodega and how the crowd had grown, one comprising of friends, family, and devoted fans, it became apparent that Nell Mescal is not only a genuine soul but also an exceptionally gracious and earnest performer.

After regaining composure, playfully chiding the crowd for reprimanding her tears, the band seamlessly transitioned into the anthemic Favourite. The audience responded with fervour, enthusiastically echoing back the lines, “I stayed awake for this, I stayed awake for you.”

Mescal's somewhat reserved demeanour presents a striking contrast to the potency of her vocals. Her adroit use of vocal ad-libs skilfully intertwines her singing prowess with the emotional resonance of the music, a distinction that becomes particularly apparent in tracks such as Yellow Dresser, Killing Time, and In My Head. These ad-libs transcend mere embellishments, showcasing not only Mescal's exceptional vocal talents but, more importantly, providing a profound sense of cathartic release. 

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Throughout the entire performance, Mescal's sincere vocal delivery consistently stands out. While maintaining a predominantly honey-sweet tonality, she strategically infuses her lyrics with moments of raw emotional honesty. Her cover of Gracie Abrams’ I Miss You, I’m Sorry provided a nice lull to the evening in which Nell and her guitarist invited the audience to an ardent acoustic segment.

She finished up with Homesick, a bittersweet performance doused in familiar longing, propelled forward by the lyrics “I’m a little bit homesick / I don’t wanna go home yet” as she interacted with the front row lined by fans who had been waiting to get that spot, handing the microphone to one of them at one point to finish one of her lyrics.

Cementing herself as a real front-runner in the emerging cycle of indie pop musicians, Nell delivered a live show that felt natural and was overflowing with charisma and charm. The mix of unreleased music, fan favourites and interludes allowed all audience members to fully embrace the cathartic nature in which she writes and delivers.

Nell Mescal performed at The Bodega on 23 January 2024

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