Live at the O2 Academy: Nimmo
As the lights dim on electro-indie five piece Nimmo at the O2 Academy in Liverpool, the stage looks surprisingly empty. Analogue keyboards blare from either side, but the chief song writing duo Sarah Nimmo (the band’s namesake) and Reva Gauntlett aren’t present.
Slowly the stage begins to fill up as the band filters onto the stage: one takes position behind a drum kit, another appears a minute later brandishing a bass guitar. Gradually, something resembling a song begins to form between them.
Finally the two front women appear, breaking into their early single ‘Jaded’. The band play well together but lack a certain presence in the room: hiding behind various MacBook screens, it feels at times as if they are relying on software over substance. Vocally however, Sarah and Reva really connect with the small, yet enraptured audience – producing a performance that is emotionally direct yet nuanced enough to reel in unsuspecting fringe-listeners.
As the set moves on, we see Nimmo traverse through varied musical territory – combining stabs of jagged electro-pop with dark, defined rhythms and twisting vocal melodies. Synths are switched out for guitars, electronic for analogue, sample loops for kick drums and vice-versa throughout the show. Beats become darker and more minimal, synth lines richer and fuller with harmonies skipping about amongst the chaos. Sarah and Reva remain animated throughout and here we really begin to see the duo feeding off of each other as every great musical partnership should – Sarah’s vivid delivery balanced perfectly by Reva’s cool introversion.
The high point if the show is ‘Others’: a fragmented tale of paranoid love and one of the band’s most acclaimed current releases. Things seem to spark up around the first chorus: the audience, having now doubled in size, are persuaded into action by the lulling pulse of the twin vocal harmonies. It stands out as the most gritty, authentic moment of the night, giving Sarah a chance to really dig into the lyrics and shine as a noteworthy front woman.
Nimmo have come a long way in the past year and this transition is visible in their live show. Something seems to happen near the middle of their set: the band flicks a switch and suddenly seems to open up, immediately becoming an irresistible presence in the room. Watching the show, it feels as if Nimmo are a band with something to prove, a forward trajectory – musicians who are on the brink of something very special and who know it. Letting everyone else know is now their priority.