Julia Nunes, Greg Holden
Benjamin Todd 23/06/2009
'Acoustic night' and 'YouTube sensation' are two disparate descriptive phrases that have the potential to mar a perfectly good British summer evening spent at a reputable British pub; A wailing teenager in the corner perhaps, screaming in the loud bits and whispering in the quiet bits about the heartache he feels despite being gorgeous, well dressed and not to mention having his equally beautiful girlfriend gazing on adoringly in the audience.
Those guys are a dime a dozen in the capital, talented maybe, but nothing we haven't heard before; Or, worse, imagine those five- million- hit youtube 'classics' springing terrifyingly to life in front of your very eyes: Some giddy moron recreating the 'once-funny-but-everyone-in-the-office-has-seen-it-a-million-times-now' shtick that they filmed themselves doing a year ago and now hope that it translates well in front of a live audience. Would you pay good money to see that obese Star Wars kid in person, buzzing around a room with his stick? Hey, maybe you would…
However 'YouTube' is not on trial here. In fact, we owe it a big thank you. It lets you the listener/watcher decide who or what you'd like to pursue as a fan with the minimum of effort (I don't miss having to watch MTV for hours waiting for that one video to be played). It's what you do with that loaded discovery that determines whether a three minute video is enough or if the clip provides a key that unlocks a wealth of treasured fandom lying beyond your laptop screen - out there in the real world.
In the real world tonight, direct from internet legend, we have the remarkable Julia Nunes.
Nunes, the 'Ukulele YouTube Sensation' is clearly suffering though. She performs this, the first show of her UK tour on antibiotics, coughing and sweating throughout. So it's a little confusing when she bounds onto the stage, in her pretty blue dress and blonde hair, fists planted on her hips, with the biggest smile you've ever seen. It's like Supergirl just walked in. The throng in front of her equally beams back. Opening with 'Short & Sweet' from her first self released CD her voice is immaculate, a confident, sure-fire boom despite her sickness gripes. She then commands the audience in one of the most musically complicated clap-a-long performances ever witnessed. The song ends and adoration is mutually exchanged between fans and artist. The crowd is on tip-toes breathlessly awaiting the next bit of quirky fun. No one here is missing their laptop, that's certain.
'Balloons' shows off a vocal range that packs a punch which is not done justice through computer speakers or mp3's. Still smiling a few songs in Julia Nunes exudes palpable sass. It's infectious. Like when we can't help but laugh out loud at the new all-American gross out/road trip/teen comedy, or when we secretly root for the quarterback as he guns for Yankee pride in a sport we don't understand during the film's closing reel. You want her to win. It's called character, and it's the thing that has the potential to make talented people rich and famous. There are plenty of boring talented people out there on stage every night. But that's what's so appealing about people with character, they don't care either way. And that's why they win.
The second half of the set is dotted with highlights, a rendition of Nsync's 'Bye Bye Bye' that everyone laughs at and sings along with in equal measure, Ukulele and vocal free style beat boxing and a spot on version of 'Build me up Buttercup' during which the crowd sings the alternate melody then join in for the chorus. It is perfectly orchestrated, child-like FUN. Her song 'Binoculars' has the sort of chord sequence most bands dream about. In fact there is as much acoustic guitar playing as there is Ukulele tonight, she is an accomplished player on both and it would be nice to hear a full band behind her to flesh out the tracks from her new album 'I Wrote These'. I'm just not so sure her enormous personality could accommodate anyone else on the stage.