Words: Benns Borgese | Photography: Lucy Browne
Three artists are set to take the stage for the latest event hosted by BBC Radio 1 presenter Abbie Mac’s Good Karma Club. The common denominator? They’re all women. Lexie Carroll, Abbie Ozard, and headliner Nell Mescal have all come together for an early celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day.
As more and more people crowd under the venue’s Colour Trap, they are welcomed by the delicate voice of Lexie Carroll first, and the magnetic energy of Abbie Ozard right after. A perfect fit to build up the excitement in the room, both performers win over the crowd with their captivatingly unique styles.
By the time Nell takes the stage, the room is packed. Welcomed by cheers, the most enthusiastic people in the room are a very distinct group of fans gathered under the stage. They’re all wearing red knitted hats, an accessory that’s become part of Mescal’s visual identity – and therefore of her fans too – ever since she wore one in the music video for her newest single ‘Homesick’.
Fresh off her Irish tour, on stage Nell is confident: not in the stoic sense, but in a this-is-where-I’m-meant-to-be, this-is-what-I’m-meant-to-do kind of way. She is not afraid to show and share her emotions with the audience, a skill that not many performers possess. And, as she sings, she can be found locking eyes with people in the crowd, an intimate connection that goes beyond the few dedicated fans at the front.
The setlist is peppered with upbeat moments (including the very necessary sad-bop moment, ‘Cutting Ties’ in this case) that act as a distraction from the general melancholy, the overarching theme being growth. Nell gives the audience background information on all her songs – most of which are unreleased and yet known by the red-hat-wearers – something that gives her personality the chance to shine through.
“Currently I’m a Matty Healy hater”, she announces after performing a mashup of Clairo’s ‘Bags’ and The 1975’s ‘Somebody Else’; the comment was made to clarify her ‘Matty Healy OMG vs Matty Healy OMG (derogatory)’ phases, to which she added, “This [cover] is for all the people who want to listen to Matty Healy, but don’t want to hate themselves for it”. On behalf of all those people, thank you, Nell.
As Nell performs her closing song, the previously mentioned ‘Homesick’, a series of signs that recite “This is our home” appear amongst the crowd. They are a labour of love crafted by Rosie, Rosie, and Ellie May, three of the fans that spent the past hour singing their hearts out front and centre.
Colours was the first venue Mescal ever played in London. If Rosie, Rosie, and Ellie May’s dedication to creating a comforting environment for Nell is a testament to the community this artist has built for herself. It’s safe to say this will be the first of many full-circle moments for Nell Mescal.
Happy (belated) International Women’s Day!