A sell out crowd at The Ruby Lounge, Manchester eagerly awaits the arrival of local artist, Natalie Findlay. Having been sufficiently warmed up by the support acts, the audience edges closer to the stage, and the atmosphere is buzzing. With previous support slots including Jake Bugg and The Courteeners, along with an opening slot on the XFM Winter Wonderland Tour, there is an air of expectation from the crowd. Natalie is met on stage by a cheer from the crowd! She steps out looking like a catwalk queen, wearing a fur coat. No acknowledgement is necessary, just the start of first song, Sweetheart, a cappella. The only other sound to accompany her voice is her hand tapping on the mic, and the crowd become instantly captivated.
The band then become involved, playing the opening notes to Fever, and the fur coat is thrown to the floor revealing a rock chick look with shiny disco pants and doc martins. This is followed by a real bluesy riff that rumbles for the beginning of Too Young. The musicians display a real Deep South American sound with a garage tinge to accompany vocals, which at time have a gravely edge. Interaction with the crowd is kept to a minimum, apart from the occasional lean into the crowd to touch outstretched hands. The next song on the set is her latest single, Off and On. This is one of my favourites of the night and judging by the reaction of the crowd, it's theirs too. The line, "Off and On" is belted out repeatedly before the band kicks in with a rip roaring rocky sound. It's acknowledged by the crowd who jump up and down in adulation, which turns into an onslaught of fist punching as the chorus repeats itself, just a pure and energetic three minutes of ballsy punk aggression, which ends with a roar of appreciation. The next two tracks, Stone And Alone and Gin on The Jukebox, keep the same pace. At this point Natalie is prowling the stage and interaction with the crowd increases. At one point she resembles a pole dancer using the mic stand as her apparatus. She really plays the mic as if it's her instrument, like all good frontmen & women do, and she's also humble enough to say a quiet thank you after each song.
The drummer moves to the front of the stage, glockenspiel in tow to play a stripped back track named, Infinite. This is where Natalie really starts to show her vocal talent, effortlessly hitting the high notes. Sister starts to screams from the crowd as Findlay oozes sublime confidence, dancing meticulously with her snake like hips. This is another crowd pleaser, again being a very bluesy track, a sound similar to 'The Dead Weather' and 'The Kills'. It has a very bass orientated rhythm which carries on throughout the song, which is a surprise because of the apparent lack of bass guitar. The final song is announced, Had To Try It Once, and is greeted by a chorus of boos from the audience because they want more. Who can blame them? The whole performance has been mesmerising. Findlay casually exits the stage, leaving the band to finish with guitar and drum solos. With good looks and a great voice to boot, it's a breath of fresh air to see a young woman in a male dominated industry commanding the stage as she does. Backed by a tight band, it's clear for all to see, Natalie Findlay is going places and is certainly one to keep an eye out for in the future. www.facebook.com/FindlayMusic
Review / photos by Matt Johnston