We’ve been covering UK singer-songwriter, NAO for over a year now and we can’t get enough of her. Her infectious sound is self-described as “wonky funk” a combination of funk and 90’s R&B with a touch of something extra. She describes wonky funky perfectly when talking about one of her early tracks “Inhale Exhale”, “Inhale Exhale is a special tune for me. When I put down the drum beat and made the bass line I was like ‘This makes sense it’s a bit funky, it’s a touch of R&B, but there’s something different about it that I can’t quantify.'”
That “wonky funk” combination can be heard all over her debut album, For All We Know. The “something different” NAO talks about evokes an indescribable feeling every time you listen to one of her records.
We recently saw NAO bring her “wonky funk” sound to life during the New York stop on her US Tour. This is what we experienced.
Darkness covered the stage as the opening track from For All We Know, “Intro (Like Velvet)” played over the speakers. The band took the stage as the 30-second track played built anticipation. The crowd erupted as stripped down “Intro” transitioned to the funky bassline of “Happy“. The purple lights shined down and NAO emerged smiling ear-to-ear. “Happy” set the perfect tone her performance.
Seamlessly, NAO transitioned into “Inhale Exhale”. The sold-out crowd’s energy continued to rise as she effortlessly glided across the stage as the funky bass line played. At this point, it was clear, NAO captured the attention of the entire crowd.
NAO naturally transitioned from her upbeat selections to her ballads “Adore You” and “In the Morning”. “In the Morning” is one of the most emotional tracks off For All We Know and the live performance added another layer to the track. The stage lighting paired with NAO’s choreography and vocal performance gave “In the Morning” another layer of emotion.
NAO commanded the stage the entire night. Her set list was perfectly crafted. The crowd’s energy level was in her hands from the very beginning. You could feel the raw emotion on tracks like “Get to Know Ya” and the explosion of energy she gave off during “Girlfriend”.
The big moment of the night was when NAO performed her final track of the evening her collaboration with producer Mura Masa, “Firefly”. Bare-footed, NAO looked like she was having a blast up on stage and it resonated with the audience as the entire crowd was grooving. Ending her set with “Firefly” would have been a great ending but you knew NAO had something left when the song came to an end and chants for an encore could be heard from outside Brooklyn Steel.
Knowing that she hadn’t performed “Bad Blood”, there was an expectation that she’d come out for an encore but there was still a surprise factor when the single line “You’re a holiday…” turned the chants of “encore” into raucous applause. “Bad Blood” is NAO’s biggest hit to date and her live performance was sheer perfection. Watching this one track live was worth the price of admission. It was an incredible end to a near flawless show.
As evidenced by her recent performance in Atlanta, the crowd wasn’t ready to go home. The entire crowd kept dancing as Chance the Rapper’s “All Night” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” played over the sound system. It was a true testament to the high-energy NAO gave during her performance.
NAO’s live performance left us wanting more. We can’t wait to hear more wonky-funk from her in 2017. Enjoy footage of the concert below.