Performing as part of the 'Creativity Transforms Lives' programme (along with the likes of GoGo Penguin, Levellers and Beth Orton) at London's Roundhouse, Nadine Shah took the Friday night slot in an intimate, 'in the round' stage setting.
Nadine is a rare creature in modern music - someone who is not afraid to confront modern day political and cultural issues (Brexit, immigration, the Syrian refugee crisis) both live and on record as evidenced in her current album 'Holiday Destination'.
Whatever your position on the political spectrum, Nadine Shah's views are relevant and current given her background: she's a 2nd generation immigrant with Norwegian heritage and a Pakistani father brought up in gritty Whitburn, South Shields in the North East.
Interspersed throughout the near 2 hour set, she references how her background and upbringing shaped her outlook, often being the victim of racial prejudice. This is referenced in 'Out Of The Way' - her main set closer - with the line 'where would you have me go? I'm second generation don't you know?'.
The basic tenet of her platform is acceptance and tolerance ('as a kid I used to think of immigrant as an exciting word, not a dirty word'), evident when she urges the audience to not 'point the finger' at the North East as a predicator of anti immigration sentiment based on the high percentage of Brexit voters. Instead she cites misinformation, press misdirection and contrived political manipulation as the cause. Don't blame the people. Instead - as she says positively - 'don't allow those who shout loudly in anger to continue - just shout louder than them!'
What about the music? It's no surprise Nadine's original musical roots are jazz based (she self deprecatingly informs a heckler 'stop it, or I'll go all Nina Simone') as her smokey baritone seeps through songs written by her and partner in crime, co-songwriter Ben Hillier (drums) against a backdrop of grinding, industrial guitars and rasping sax in a confrontational, post punk style.
'Holiday Destination' is played in full, the highlights including the title track ('the best time of your lives, but where's the locals living? pushed out cause of the price - how you gonna sleep tonight?), 2016 ('what is left to inspire us, with a fascist in the White House'), the dreamy 'Jolly Sailor' (named after her favourite local pub), Evil ('I can only offer what I've been taught, how can I compete with an ingrained thought?).
However, the most poignant song was 'Dreary Town' from her inaugural 'Love Your Dum and Mad' LP. Sung on her own, strumming simple chords, she held the audience completely captive. Pins didn't dare drop.
She closes the main set amongst the audience, hammering out the aforementioned punk/aggression of 'Out The Way' (where would you have them go, a generation searching for a home?), before an encore finishing with an impassioned 'Mother Fighter' ('I'm a mother and a fighter - I can do both just as well') dedicated to Raga, a character who Shah discovered via the film A Syrian Love Story by Sean McAllister about a family quest for freedom to the west. 'The streets they are yours and they're mine' she sings. It's an instruction, not a request.
Whatever you think of her politics, there's no doubting her sincerity as both a person and an artist. As the tears welled up and she sent her love to her Mum and family in the audience, let's not forget the songs and musicianship which have elevated her and the band to a new level (Holiday Destination made BBC6 Music's 2017 Best Album list).
It's 21st century music, with 21st century lyrics and opinion from a very relevant 21st century artist, proof that - whatever your political hue - there is room for fearless relevant political and social statement in modern music.