Amsterdam In Awe For Nathan Ball

Nathan Ball live at Bitterzoet, Amsterdam © Sylvia Wijnands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Although his debut album Under The Mackerel Sky came out in 2021, Nathan Ball finally is back on the road with a short European tour. Starting with two shows in the UK a few days earlier, Nathan played his first of the Dutch dates at Bitterzoet in Amsterdam.

At times Nathan Ball plays with a band, but for this tour, he is performing his alternative folk music solo. Starting with the subdued “Whispers”, the tone was immediately set. He seamlessly let the song flow into the next one “Just Say Something”. I have rarely experienced a room being so quiet and listening so intently during a concert. It instantly created a very intimate atmosphere throughout the venue. “Not Alone”, which was originally written for his grandmother, was especially for this evening dedicated to a fan who recently lost her father. A truly heartfelt and emotional moment.

“The Forest” from the EP Among The Silence, released this year, was received with great enthusiasm by the audience. One of the songs that cannot be missed during a Nathan Ball concert is the touching and compelling “Drifting”. Here and there was some soft singing along in the crowd, but it was like nobody wanted to break the serenity of the music by singing too loudly. What struck me during the concert was that people were just really listening, and not constantly on their phones like most people do nowadays. Of course, photos and videos were taken, but still, everyone was mainly focused on the music.

The next track was “Crazy”, a Gnarls Barkley cover. While he already released this cover acoustically in 2018, this version gave some more excitement. I prefer this version over the original! “Under The Mackerel Sky” was written in lockdown after reading a poem from John Betjeman. A mackerel sky for sea folk, like a patchwork of clouds across the sky, means that a change is coming in the weather, but in the song, it is about the change in the world that was happening. The song has a compelling but simple chorus. He invited the audience to sing the chorus “I’m not lost” loudly with him, to let you know that you are not lost and you are never alone whatever you are going through. The audience happily responded and formed a nice choir, a real highlight of the show!

He left the stage with the dark and electronic “Friend/Lover” and audience favorite “Right Place” with everyone clapping along, to return shortly afterward for the encore. Instead of deciding what song to play himself, Nathan asked if there were any requested songs. “All Or Nothing” was shouted from somewhere in the audience, so that was the song he played. For the last song, the crowd was treated to a brand new song, which was written just a few days earlier. “Safety In Numbers” is an electronic song that showcases Nathan’s love for house music some more. Naturally, the crowd was super excited to be the first to hear the song!

There was a nice balance between the quieter, sensitive songs and the electronic songs, which gave the evening an intimate and relaxed vibe overall. Nathan Ball still has a few tour dates in Germany before his tour with Ziggy Alberts will bring him to New Zealand and Australia later this year. For more tour dates and tickets click here.

Nathan Ball live at Bitterzoet, Amsterdam
All Photos © Sylvia Wijnands

Nathan Ball
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Just Say Something
Not Alone
The Forest
Under The Mackerel Sky
My Answer
Friend / Lover
Right Place

All Or Nothing
Safety In Numbers

Show Date: October 5, 2023