Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats @ O2 Academy, 10/11/16

Up until last Thursday, I was jealous of my mates that jetted off to the USA last summer. But now I don’t need to go, as Nathaniel Ratcliffe and his backing band, the Nightsweats, brought a little slice of Missouri to the O2 Academy in Leeds.

Nathaniel looked relaxed as he strutted on stage in an offensive amount of denim, to an O2 Academy filled to the brim with 50 year olds. It was all business for the Americans commanding the stage, with little in the way of crowd interaction bar a couple of Freddie Mercury–esque vocal games. Given the standard of the music, this was easily forgiven. From the first note to the last there was not one f**k up. Considering the fun they were having on stage, this was surprising.

Dropping my favourite song ‘I Need Never Get Old’ early was a bold move. It seemed to pay off as the static audience actually danced for one of the few times in the set. It was odd that no one was up for dancing. I couldn’t keep my hips still! Nathaniel was clearly annoyed by the lack of response, saying “now you wake up” when ‘S.O.B’ kicked in. However, the audience was very willing to clap at any opportunity, which was some consolation.

The set weaved from heavy hearted folk ballads to country rock and roll seamlessly. An acoustic rendition of ‘I’d be waiting’ turned out to be one of the highlights of the night. Nathaniel’s vocals tugged on the heartstrings of everyone in the venue. ‘Look It Here’ and ‘Trying So Hard Not To Know’ were also standout live numbers.

Musically, Nathaniel couldn’t have done more; the gig was simply sublime. I just wish the crowd would have loosened up and moved to the infectiously rhythmic songs.

Ben Roberts

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