I only found Half Waif recently. The song Keep It Out is one of those tracks that appeared in my Spotify Discover playlists which made me stop, listen to it again, then immediately download the album. I was away in New York at the time and hearing her lament the same city while I paced its streets enhanced the experience for me. It was a nice coincidence to find that on the day after my return she was playing in Glasgow at the Glad Cafe. Glasgow is such a fantastic place for gigs. Sure, Edinburgh has comedy, theatre and film but when it comes to music it’s an absolute trash fire. I’m sure this will only get worse as they shut down Leith Depot and replace with some more housing.
Having never been to the Glad Cafe I trundled over the bridge from the station at pace. My train from Edinburgh has been delayed, naturally, so I unfortunately missed the opening act but got there just in time for Super Inuit who were an electronic two piece split between vocals and synths. The sound is thick and the vocals bring Portishead to mind while the songs are pleasant and come and go. There aren’t really any choruses which make it a little samey after awhile. There’s also an awkwardness in their performance that puts up an invisible wall between them and us.
When they finish I notice a row of five cinema-style seats at the back and take a break. As I sit there in the red velvet seat I chuckle to myself gleefully realising I can actually call myself an armchair critic.
Half Waif comes on, once her equipment has been set up. A Nord synth, novation launchpad and laptop and I’m sure a ton of other stuff hidden away. For a relatively simple set up the sound in the Glad Cafe is phenomenal. The intimate space filled with opening song Silt and the crowd swelled around the stage as the oh-so-relatable chorus rings out: “If you want my love, I will guide you. I will be your anchor, if I only had a minute to myself”.
Unlike previous Half Waif tours this one sees Nandi Rose Plunkett on stage alone without her band triggering each sequence herself. She speaks of how performing the songs solo has improved her confidence The real strength of the performance is her powerful voice. There are shades of Tori Amos in that she manages to straddle that line between strong and vulnerable. Her lyrics also make considerably more sense and are not buried under endless metaphors which is always helpful.
The gig sails past in moments as Nandi effortlessly breezes through the majority of her latest album Lavender: Lilac House, In The Evening, Torches, Lavender Burning before playing my two favourites Keep It Out and Back In Brooklyn. Having become a devout fan of the album I am delighted that the entire record gets played along with Turn Me Around from the last album and Severed Logic and Cerulean from 2017’s form/a EP. I am standing centre stage soaking in her performance. Watching Nandi play key melodies on the synth, trigger whooshing samples, or tap out drum parts while her heartfelt vocals wash over us is mesmerising.
The Glasgow crowd are warm and friendly, responding positively throughout with cheers and enthusiastic applause after each song. To thank us Nandi treats us to a new song she has written called Capsule that is still a work in progress yet the vocal refrain “Don’t you trust me with your agony anymore” lingers in my head long after the gig has finished. After just over an hour, the set finishes on Salt Candy and I hang back to see if I can catch a word with her at the merchandise stall. However the last train departure time is nearing and I need to dash so my intended conversation with her does not take place and is lost to bad timing. Regardless the gig was truly special and enhanced my adoration for the album – a genuinely honest and impressive show that left me truly fulfilled.