Ed Harcourt, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats @ Colston Hall, Bristol, 19/11/2016

nathaniel rateliffThroughout this rollicking, megawatt performance, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats offer a textbook study on turning one-man downbeat folk into a blistering fusion of revivalist soul and Americana that has the potential to sell out arenas and spark global tours.

London’s own Ed Harcourt opens proceedings with a striking set of chamber-pop stomps that keep the gradually growing crowd interested throughout.

A veteran performer with a stack of writing credits to his name, Harcourt draws heavily from recently released album Furnaces. Once a Mercury Prize nominee, on this evidence, Harcourt is long overdue his own shot at headlining venues such as these.

Striding on stage in trademark fedora, boots and jacket, Rateliff cuts an imposing figure leading his band through some energetic early numbers.

Until last year, Rateliff had achieved modest success as a credible yet relatively undistinguished solo performer, with two albums and an EP under his belt.

Yet since forming in 2015, the Night Sweats have allowed Rateliff an opportunity to move beyond his insular folk-pop roots and embrace the sort of soulful, thumping Americana that induces involuntary, spasmodic dancing in a near- 2,000 crowd on a rainy Saturday night in Bristol.

Now embarking on a 16-date tour across the UK and Europe support of their second album A Little More From Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, tracks such as "I Never Need Get Old" highlight their signature of brassy blues underpinned by Rateliff’s fearsome country drawl.

Traces of Otis Redding and Van Morrison-esque songwriting echo throughout, and the tempo rarely dips as the seven-piece infuse each track with enough infectious energy to power the city outside for many months.

Although the band’s all-consuming instrumentals fill every inch of the grand Colston Hall, this venue seems almost too stately for their growling, dirty brand of gospel, particularly during the blasphemous but brilliant "S.O.B".

As has become obligatory gig procedure, Rateliff also takes a moment to recognize the influence of the noted musicians who have passed away this year, culminating in a touching cover of Leonard Cohen’s "Chelsea Hotel No 2".

Still only two albums and 18 months into this experiment, it’s safe to say the Night Sweats have proven to be a very successful venture for this remarkable chameleon of an artist. And tonight’s showing suggests there is much more to come from Rateliff and his gang as they continue to evolve and develop that huge sound.

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