1st November | Motion
All buoyant curls and swinging arms, NAO graced us with her presence bringing her vivacious vocal in the form of the predictably joyous ‘Happy’. Yet during ‘Inhale Exhale’ and ‘Get to Know Ya’ the stage was her personal dancefloor, taking calculated steps back and forth, left to right through her pitch perfect performance.
“Thank you guys for having me back this is so amazing!” she trills enthusiastically, her voice as high pitched as it was in song. ‘In the Morning’ served up a sunrise serenade bathed in blue lights, bouncy beats, and spacey R&B. Her live show boasted a refined palette, brushed with funk textures, layered with throbbing pop, and torn into with epic riffs.
Her influence from 70’s divas was clear with the jubilant ‘We Don’t Give A’ – channelling the likes of Jocelyn Brown and Aretha Franklin in three minutes of bliss. Yet it’s ‘Girlfriend’ that got all the single ladies singing “If I was your, girlfriend” with hands thrown in the air in defiance. The poignancy of her music is clear, her knack for cranking out relatable contemporary R&B bangers is not opinion, but fact looking at the way her captivated audience responded.
Her two collaborations with AK Paul shone in different spotlights; ‘So Good’ as the rousing soul single that sprouted the roots for success, and ‘Trophy’ a more progressive and aggressive cut from her debut album – fronting a grinding funk melody that’s as catchy as it is menacing. In the middle she suddenly began an unexpected cover of ‘Senorita’ by Justin Timberlake which took everyone by surprise, but nobody by disappointment.
‘Apple Cherry’ is the one that stands alone as a warped dubstep infused soul number that effectively melds her unique style into 2016, even if it is a year old. It’s the entrancing ‘Fool to Love’ that casts a spell on Motion with many cases of flipping heads, waving hands, and gyrating shoulders infecting the crowd and spreading like wildfire. The crowd weren’t the only ones dancing; Nao has the best moves of any artist I’ve seen, at one point stopping to vigorously hula hoop her hips on the spot as if challenging Shakira to a dance battle.
‘Zillionaire’ and Mura Masa collaboration ‘Firefly’ polished off the night, but untangling her long locks from the microphone she fired into ‘Bad Blood’ to riotous cheers. Everyone recited it word for word, exposing the sheer magnitude at which NAO has struck the mainstream in such a short time.
“I don’t want you to think I sit around listening to my own record” she said frantically in her softly spoken polite manner before her self-confessed favourite ‘DYWM’ began asking Bristol the vital question with the chorus “do you want me?” repeatedly. From the sound of the grandiose funk tunes that enchanted Motion, does she even need to ask?
Check out her latest single ‘Girlfriend’ below.