Live Review: Rationale, The Bodega Nottingham, 31st March 2016

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It feels like far too long since I’ve been to a concert, so it felt important that my first live music of the year should be something special. Having emerged out of anonymity, London based singer Rationale has already had his hit single ‘Something For Nothing’ playlisted on Radio 1 and has delivered the most acclaimed set at this year’s Future Festival at the legendary Maida Vale studios. It’s artists like him that are the ones making waves in British music, so I joined him in Nottingham to witness the latest step of his meteoric rise.

It was my first time at The Bodega and I was surprised at how small the venue was. I’m used to being up front at gigs but here it felt like I was going to be invading someone’s personal space. I was glad to at be the front though when the opening act, blonde bombshell Betsy, began her set. She was as glamorous as Sandy at the end of Grease and had equally breathtaking vocals. Clearly raised on massive 80s ballads, Betsy’s voice really packs a punch. She certainly seems like a future star in the making and I’m sure she won’t be just an opening act for long.

There was a fair bit of delay before the main event due to technical trouble, and even once Rationale had taken to the stage it ended up being third time’s the charm when it comes to microphones. To his credit he took it all in his stride like a consummate professional. He came across as down to earth and humble, as though he were unaware of brilliant voice and songwriting. He had a warm smile and an infectious energy; he thrives in front of a live audience and really got the crowd going. Songs like ‘Fast Lane’ and ‘Fuel to the Fire’ both carried a deeper visceral message and were also vibrant and dynamic summer ready anthems – a rare combination that Rationale has certainly mastered.

All of his previously released tracks were given a new lease of life in a live setting. Having only released five songs to date, much of his far too brief set consisted of new songs being tested out on the road. He mixes a range of different styles and genres, ranging from soul and R&B, to indie and electronica, even venturing into some heavy blues during a short mid-set interlude. He had a great band behind him with some top notch backing harmonies and a simply magnificent bass line that most bands would kill for. If his new songs are anywhere near as good as the live performance then his upcoming debut might have album of the year potential. I’m glad I got the chance to see such a talented new artist up close and personal as he certainly won’t be playing these small venues for much longer!

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