Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
At one stage of this headline gig, the confused atmosphere threatened to dampen what was otherwise heading to be an extremely pleasant night for Rateliff and his Night Sweats. They had done their part to produce a congenial, buoyant crowd, rattling off their litany of well-known hits alongside fresher material from their warmly received new album Tearing at the Seams.
Yes, they had provided what the audience bayed for, but arguably not in any coherent order, which proved divisive in the quieter seated levels. The frontman styles himself as a 60s soul man, with inflections of gospel and early blues defining his sound. Carving out a name as a soulful artist today means one can expect a melange of songs boasting a range of emotions, and this is what the lead singer delivers.
However, shifting from a jovial jig to a sonorous solemn tune can mislead listeners, which was illustrated when one fan pleaded with another to “shut up, you mug” after the latter had supportively bleated “come on Nathaniel!” at a more solemn juncture. This lack of cohesion in the set’s mood soon corrected itself though, as the horns increasingly impressed themselves upon the music, a progression that hit its height with the wonderfully bouncy Babe I Know.
Assembling the Night Sweats in 2015 has added a significant element to the singer’s music: it’s meant to be heard live. The seven-piece band played a sublime role in coercing the Empire into a chorus of claps, cheers and audible excitement as they teased the introduction of another track with a smooth sax solo here and a jubilant jam session there.
After ostensibly finishing the performance with long-time favourite SOB, ululations of the melody rose up and intensified to such a point that an encore was inevitable; out Rateliff and the Night Sweats skipped, one by one, to a wall of noise, and a celebratory two-song finale was fed to a now sated audience.
Photos: Nick Bennet
For further information and future events visit Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’s website here.
Watch the video for SOB here: