The no-wave singer-songwriter recently visited Nottingham on her CACTI tour, performing to a sold-out Rescue Rooms audience. Impact’s Izzy Morris headed down to see just why the whole of Nottingham had been clamouring for tickets.
After thoroughly enjoying Billy Nomates’ sophomore album CACTI earlier this year, I was chomping at the bit to see it performed live. And what better place than Nottingham? Being a Nottingham local herself, Tor Maries had been inspired to become the incredible Billy Nomates after attending a gig from Nottingham’s very own Sleaford Mods, a duo that she’d later go on to collaborate with on the track ‘Mork n Mindy’. While not quite a homecoming for the performer, the Rescue Rooms stage was certainly ready to welcome her in like one of Nottingham’s own, with buzz for the performance rippling through the local music community.
Before the main event though, we were treated to a brilliant opening set from Aussie post-punk band RVG. I’d never heard of the band before their performance but was quickly compelled to give them my full attention. The emotional resonance from frontwoman Romy Vager was awe-striking both in terms of lyrics and performance, accompanied by jangly guitars to form a vintage 80s surf-pop feel. There’s a sense of timelessness to RVG that is captivating and dynamic, and I feel lucky to have experienced them given that they’d flown across the pond to introduce themselves to the crowd at Rescue Rooms. RVG are a perfect addition to any listening list of fans of The Smiths, The Cure, Pixies or Camp Cope.
This emotional track bordering on country provided a wonderful tonal shift given what was to follow
We then waited as crew members entirely stripped the stage of instruments, bar a cymbal, and a cacti-green marbled guitar, making room for Billy Nomates to enter from the wings. Walking onto rapturous applause, the singer-songwriter opened the set with an acoustic track – ‘fawner’. Showcasing her gorgeous vocals that combine beautiful airiness with a sharp, biting edge, this emotional track bordering on country provided a wonderful tonal shift given what was to follow…
With bright lights and almost frenetic rhythmic movements accompanying her incredibly buoyant and dynamic music
Billy Nomates immediately exploded into life, bursting into the electronica-infused track ‘black curtains in the bag’ into the infectiously catchy and dancey ‘blue bones (deathwish)’, both from CACTI. Without a band on stage to fill the space and maximise the presence of the performance, you’d think it would be easy for Tor Maries to become swallowed up by the emptiness. Truly, she pulls off being a literal Billy Nomates, with bright lights and almost frenetic rhythmic movements accompanying her incredibly buoyant and dynamic music. Given the nature of the post-punk genre, and the way at times it is a hegemonic preference for full live bands, it’s a bold choice for the performer to opt to take to the stage solo, but it did not at all detract from the Billy Nomates experience. This party for one still got everyone moving.
She maintained a real star power and energy throughout her set, moving through her groundbreaking album without even coming close to losing her audience. A particular highlight was her track ‘Vertigo’, which had a perfect dose of bite and bounce. Fan-favourite ‘spite’ later on in the set had a similar quality to it, accompanied by a confident swagger, especially with the lyric ‘don’t you tell me I ain’t the f***ing man’. Her deadpan lyrics accompanied by the strength in her presence creates this raw scrappiness that is endearing, impressive and admirable, all in one. Despite the brilliance and vibrance of her energy as she dances across the stage, there’s something real about her that the audience entirely ate up.
There’s an unstoppable force within Tor Maries that I absolutely encourage any music lover to try to witness for themselves
In between tracks, the performer regularly remarked that she still can’t believe that people actually show up to her gigs, and that she’d entirely understand if people just didn’t. I fully believe that even if the crowd hadn’t been sold out, even if it had truly just been her and a spattering of 6 music punters, the essence of performance that clearly runs through her veins would have still lit up the room. There’s an unstoppable force within Tor Maries that I absolutely encourage any music lover to try to witness for themselves.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @Billy Nomates via Facebook. No changes were made to these images.
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