THePETEBOX, Nina Smith, Captain Dangerous – Nottingham Bodega, Thursday July 7
There’s a new sense of confidence and purpose in the Nottingham music scene, with several local acts – Liam Bailey, Ronika, Dog Is Dead – being widely tipped to break through on a national level. All over town, games are being raised, as the shackles of cosy underachievement are lifted at long last. This new mood of optimism was reflected on Thursday night at the Bodega, as three impressive Nottingham acts took to the stage.
Captain Dangerous are a six-piece outfit, with a two-piece fiddle section in their ranks. They’re rowdy, rambunctious and heaps of fun, with a front man (Adam Clarkson) who wasn’t afraid to scale the speaker stacks – even if he did need help to clamber cautiously back down again. Free copies of the new single (Forgive Us We’re British) were made available at the front of the stage, and a polite feeding frenzy ensued.
Although visibly nervous in front of her home crowd, Nina Smith and her trio of backing musicians (“my boy band”) delivered a charming, understated set. Nina’s songs combine emotional vulnerability with an unexpected streak of sexual assertiveness, and she performed them with a frail but focused sincerity.
Pete Sampson – better known as THePETEBOX, at least when he’s not drumming with the hotly tipped Swimming – was on the last night of a short UK tour, and playing his first full gig in the city for about three years. Visibly touched by the warm support of the near-capacity crowd, he wondered aloud why it had taken him so long to return.
Having made his name as a straight-up beatboxer of the old school, Pete has progressively widened his range, adding guitar, live looping and full vocals to his box of tricks. There’s an album in the pipeline, which will feature his own compositions: proper songs, which have allowed him to develop his craft well beyond the usual showy gimmickry. Indie rock influences have also come to the forefront, as evidenced by his choice of covers: Crystal Castles’ Crimewave, Nirvana’s Lithium, MGMT’s Kids, and even a Pixies track, Where Is My Mind.
As the looped layers of sound built up around him, it was hard to believe that just one man was creating all this music on the spot, without recourse to pre-recorded samples. The crowd danced, Pete smiled and swigged from a vodka bottle, and the healthy state of music in this city was ably and convincingly showcased.