On Tuesday night, local Leeds quartet Noya Rao took to the Brude’s Community Room to enchant with an evening of soultronic bliss.
Long Legged Creatures, a fellow rising talent on the Leeds scene, launched the night with an eclectic, spacey soundscape, taking us through an orbit of ominous electronica. The band introduced a special guest for their last couple of songs – ‘a right little scallywag’, Joshua Zero – for a finale of melodramatic spoken word, which steadily metamorphosed into a performative hysteria.
After an arresting if slightly unsettling start to the evening, it was time for Noya Rao to take to the stage and soothe the crowd with soulful rhythms. The band strode through some initial technical difficulties with a calm collectedness that set the tone for the rest of their assured performance, with vocalist Olivia Bhattacharjee playfully checking: ‘Is this mic too hot, Trev? I mean, it’s always hot, but…’
Noya Rao exude a captivating charm as they play to their hometown, expertly shifting between their 2017 debut album Icaros and 2019 EP Owls, as well as bringing some unreleased tunes into the mix. The band are shrouded amid the shadows of the slowly-revolving stage lights as they play, with the established, ethereal nature of Olivia’s vocals recalling those of Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano.
They take languid transitions through fan-favourite ‘I Feel’ and the interlude-esque ‘Dreaming Pt. 1’ before playing a tune co-written by Beth of Long Legged Creatures. Olivia takes this moment to thank their support for starting the night and introduces the track as ‘another new tune with another shit name’ – and so begins ‘Smooth Groove’.
Despite their misgivings over its title the song goes down as well as a treasured favourite with the crowd, and the band continue into the night with reverberating synths and angelic vocals, which rise together in an otherworldly crescendo like a melodic call to prayer. Their harmonious spell is prematurely broken by an accidental tap of a particularly comic-sounding synth, received with laughter by both band and audience: ‘love a synth fart’, a member of the crowd proclaims. Noya Rao continue with their set unperturbed, moving into the allure of ‘Owls’ and foreboding bass of ‘Golden Claw’ as they approach the end of the evening.
They exit the stage briefly before returning for a two-song finale. ‘It’s quite exciting having an encore,’ Olivia says, ‘we don’t usually have enough songs.’ The searing synth of their most successful tune, ‘Talk’, announces itself to welcoming cheers, and content smiles flicker across the band’s faces as some of the lyrics of final song ‘Fly’ are sung back to them by the crowd.
Noya Rao finish the night on a high, having effortlessly enthralled their audience with their sumptuous soultronica and affirmed themselves as one of the most exciting bands on the Leeds scene.
Header Image by Gondwana Records.