What could have been a run of the mill Monday night (4th July, 2011) was beautifully transformed by NEeMA. I had only heard one song by her before I walked into the Sugar Club so was unsure what to expect. It turned out to be a spot of folk mixed with a mostly pleasant pinch of world music thrown in. NEeMA (real name Nadine Neemeh), hails from Canada but does come across as a nomad of sorts telling stories of community living and travel including some time in Ireland. This nomadic nature is apparent in quite a number of her songs, most obviously in the astounding ‘Masi’, a prayer song written for the community she once lived with. NEeMA has been touted as Leonard Cohen’s protégé as he had some input into her second album ‘Watching You Think’ and his influence is quite apparent during her cover of ‘Avalanche’. It could well have been written by her. A gorgeous rendition of Dire Straits’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ also made a appearance on the night.
There were, however, a couple of slightly discomforting moments. The first of these happened with the slightly dated reference to Skid Row in ‘Lost in LA’ and the second during a version of ‘Emmenez Moi’ which sounded a tad too Eurovision-y for my tastes. That said NEeMA is a fabulous performer, using everything at her disposal to enhance the performance through her voice, facial expressions, using storytelling to intro her songs. At one point she kick started a sing-along to “A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday”, which is quite an accomplishment in such a hushed venue on a Monday night. The interaction with her band on stage was lovely to watch and the gorgeous backing vocals on ‘Running’ were provided by her drummer. She closed the show with ‘Masi’, easily the song of the night and encored without leaving the stage with ‘Eternity’ and ‘Bone to Pick with Time’. I should say that this was easily the best Monday night I’ve had in a while and I doubt there were many in attendance who’d disagree.
NEeMA – Escape