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Simply the best


Photo by Mike Smith 

August 2001

A hot summer’s night in a theatre in West London, in the darkness a band begins to play. Eight bars in a slight figure bounds onto the stage to be met by a full volley of light. Heather Nova in sequined top glitters and flickers. It is impossible to take your eyes from her. And she reaches for the microphone.

"Just Been Born" from South is a strange choice for the opener as it’s 29th August 2001 and the album is still a month from being released so virtually no-one in the sell-out audience, crammed into the Shepherd’s Bush Empire knows the song. But then she goes into "Maybe An Angel" from Oyster--a Heather Nova staple that shows immediately why she's considered one of the finest live performers around--seeming totally confident and relaxed.

Much of the set is taken from Siren. The hook-laden "London Rain" is full of energy and the audience bounces a long in time; the moody and atmospheric "Winterblue" features a great little solo from lead guitarist Berit Fridahl, though her vocal harmonies on the song weren't quite so impressive.

"I'm Alive" with a broad range of dynamics, the verse nothing more than a whisper, the chorus immensely powerful. Unlike so many bands Heather clearly understands that not everyone has to play all the time. As if to emphasise the point she performs "Walking Higher" alone with an acoustic guitar before leading the band into "Heart and Shoulder"

It was surprising that Heather didn't communicate with the audience much during the set at all. Certainly a few details about the new songs from South (even just their titles) would have helped. The finale, "Verona," was very powerful both musically and visually. It was one of those "you really had to be there to fully appreciate it" moments. The band at the max under the swirling lights, Heather giving it everything--right on the edge.

As part of the encore, Heather introduced ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler onto the stage to join the band in playing "I'm No Angel," a song he wrote with her. The verse is straight out of the Pretenders songbook, but it’s got one of those choruses you feel you’ve always known - then straight into "Widescreen" with some terrifically controlled yet powerful guitar work from Berit and a great melodic bass line.

The ovation went on and on--clearly no-one was leaving the building--and finally the band reappeared to play "Island," simply a great song. It’s fair to say a thoroughly good time was had by all.--Jamie Field and Evelyn Downing


Photo by VPRO at Pinkpop


picture from BDR (German Television) 

September 2003

n acoustic evening with Heather Nova at Brighton's Concorde2 concluded the UK portion of her launch tour for Storm (review). Simplicity underlines the the songs, her musical performances and production both on the album and on stage.

Her music flows freely and effortlessly, creating a wonderful inspiring atmosphere. Heather herself describes it "full of texture, landscapes and passing moments in time." The venue describes it as "Soulful, modern, sophisticated Americana!"

The Brighton show, as with others in the UK, was supported by the three-piece acoustic outfit Grand Drive (website). Their short set warmed up the packed house who were so eager to see and hear Heather Nova that regrettably they were not invited back for an encore.

Heather Nova's band came to the stage followed quickly by the stunning singer. Her band is comprised of Glenn Scott (keys, bv), Luke Bellen (drums) and Matt Round (bass). While the focus of the set clearly was on Storm, Heather treated the audience to selections from her back catalog as well including many prior favourites in the set. An incredible warmth from the audience was felt across the venue and appeared to positively influence the singer and her band.


Heather Nova - Live at the Union Chapel


Not knowing what to expect from the gig, we were impressed from the first track to the very last with the stunning quality of Heather's vocals in a live setting and the stunning production that surrounded this live performance. So perfectly mixed and performed, we were initially almost fooled into thinking that it was recorded previously, but it was clearly a live performance, and a stunning one at that. The sublime tracks from Storm, an album that requires some warming up to, especially for those that adored the artist's prior three projects, were brought to life on stage and given new definition through Heather Nova's stage presence.


Photo by Mike Smith


The set mixed the new material in with the back catalog. Heather opened with "One Day In June" and "I Wanna Be Your Light," both tender tracks from the new album. She then transitioned to "Winterblue," one of the knock down favourites from Siren and "It's Only Love" from South. With the back catalog now well in play, Heather transitioned into further stunners from Siren, "Heart and Shoulder" and "London Rain," before returning to the gentle textures from Storm with "You Left Me A Song" and "Lets Not Talk About Love."

The gig continued by blending the back catalog with new material. The first played from Oyster was "Island" then followed by "All I Need," another track from Storm. Back to South with "Gloomy Sunday" and then "Drink It In" from Storm. A stunning rendition of Storm's "Drink It In" and "River Of Life" followed before returning to South for "Help Me Be Good To You." The main set concluded with "Truth And Bone" (Oyster), "Fool For You" (Storm) and "Doubled Up" (also from Oyster).

After leaving the stage for the first time to thunderous applause, Heather Nova and the band returned to perform two back catalog classics in the first of two encores. Everyone adored the reworked live version of "Valley Of Sound," from Siren. But it was the live performance of Oyster's opening track, "Walk This World" (also featured on Wonderlust in a live version) that really brought the house down. Based on the continued tremendous response from the audience, Heather returned for a second encore by herself to perform the title track of her new album. The band returned one more time to take their bows to conclude this incredibly performed and arranged show.--Russ Elliot

Article reprinted on this website courtesy of


photo by Cynthia Fridsma Heather Nova on her birthday at Paradiso in Amsterdam on July 6, 2004