Presented by Live Nation and hosted by The Waiting Room, London.
Nikhil has recently played established new music festivals such as Live at Leeds and Brighton’s The Great Escape. Unfortunately, I missed Nikhil’s performance at Live at Leeds at the beginning of May, so I was determined to see him at his headline show in London.
The singer/songwriter/guitarist was born in Mumbai. Nikhil has reached huge acclaim in India as a singer/songwriter for Bollywood ballads to popular films such as Aisha. However, he has now spread his wings to the UK and has recently been signed to East West Records, part of the Warner Music Group. His main musical influence is Jeff Buckley and he supports new artists such as Isaac Gracie and Matt Maltese.
The Waiting Room (originally named The Drop) is a small, but smart live music venue underneath The Three Crowns pub on Stoke Newington High Street, North-East London. Relaunched in 2012 to hold a standing capacity of 120, by the same people behind The Lock Tavern and Shacklewell Arms, similar London live music venues.
Support was from Alex Hulme, singer/songwriter/guitarist who had travelled down from Liverpool for the gig. He was extremely endearing with anecdotes and explanations of his songs. His vocal range was amazing, he even got the crowd to join in with a couple of his catchy songs and choruses. A vast array of pedals lay before his mismatched socks. He explained later that he found it easier to hit the pedals barefoot rather than with his clumsy Dr Martens.
A warm and friendly crowd filled the Waiting Room from the stage to the bar at the rear. For most, this was their first encounter with Nikhil in person rather than hearing his songs on the BBC Radio 2 or watching his videos on YouTube. It was also the first time Nikhil had performed live with a backing band playing drums, bass, keyboard and cello.
Starting on a high with his anthemic single, ‘Silver and Gold’, Nikhil’s falsetto vocals were astounding, powerful and faultless. His melodic, sing-along new song, ‘Take Me Home’ was an instant hit with the crowd. In-between songs he entertained the enchanted audience with funny anecdotes and stories. After playing ‘Simple Kind of Love’ he said “That was the Mumford and Son moment of the night. Everyone has to have a “Woah, Oh, Oh” song these days. This next song is completely NOT that!” He then played ‘Beautiful Mind’ which some of the audience recognised as it was released as a single last October. A sad song about unrequited love, which he sang with such passion. “If only you could hear me, If only eyes could speak, Only you would see, Tell me you can hear me, hear my silent scream, If only you’d believe, I’d stop walking”. The audience were captivated when he played a solo, stripped-back acoustic version of ‘Still in Love’. When he announced to the crowd that the following song, ‘Love Is a Liar’ would be the last song of the evening, the audience responded with a loud “Awww!” and “Encore!” He said, “I love the collective sigh of disappointment!” It was an epic track and one of the most powerful of the evening. After many requests from the audience, Nikhil decided to play ‘Take Me Home’ again as the encore which concluded the hour-long set. An extremely happy and contented crowd left The Waiting Room that evening. It’s rare to witness an artist who creates goose bumps on the surface of your arms and makes all the hairs stand up. Phenomenal!
Set List: Silver and Gold, It’s Easier, Take Me Home, Simple Kind of Love, Beautiful Mind, Still in Love, Paradise, We’re Only People, Truth in My Eyes, Nowhere to Run, Love Is A Liar. Encore (audiences request): Take Me Home.
Nikhil’s much anticipated forthcoming debut album is due to be released later this year. In the meantime, you can catch him playing at The BBC’s Biggest Weekend on Saturday 27th May in Coventry.
Until the next adventure…