Just last month, the unfortunate news broke that the annual Mamby on the Beach festival would be cancelled, due to troubles with the location. That meant that many of the artists that music fans in Chicago had been looking forward to seeing perform would no longer be in town the weekend of August 23rd and 24th. On the other hand, some of the artists were still able to book new gigs at venues around the city, and fortunately one of those artists was Nao, who performed at the Metro on Friday night.
Chicago’s own Jean Deaux took the stage first on Friday, and she did a perfect job of warming the crowd up for Nao. Jean Deaux’s set was short, but sweet, and included a ton of crowd interaction encouraged by the singer. From call-and-response style sing alongs to dance moves, the crowd remained entertained the whole time. Being her hometown, some of the audience was already well-versed with Deaux’s music, but by the end of the set she had gained the entire room’s attention and admiration with her outgoing performance style.
By the time Nao was set to take the stage, the Metro had completely filled in, and it became clear how much of a positive impact the London R&B artist’s music has had on fans, even miles away from her hometown. When the lights dimmed and Nao’s band took the stage, she actually entered from the back of the crowd, singing the entirety of “Another Lifetime” alongside her audience. While the indoor venue was obviously scaled back from the size of the festival performance, Nao’s surprise introduction made her performance even more intimate.
As the night went on, Nao continued to truly connect with the audience through her lyrics, her stage presence, and her speaking points. Nao is an artist who bares her souls in her songwriting, and when she performs, she leaves all her energy onstage. Whether she was twirling across the stage, sitting down at the edge of the stage to be physically closer to the audience, or handing out white balloons (as an homage to her Saturn album cover), Nao’s energy was something that you didn’t just watch— it was something that you felt. Everyone in the room could genuinely relate to Nao as she recited an anecdote about change and personal growth before performing her new album’s title track “Saturn.”
The difference between a good show and a great show usually comes down to the energy put out by the performer and the crowd alike, and for Nao’s Metro performance, there was nothing but positive vibes in the room that night. The show brought people of all different backgrounds into one place, allowing for strangers to share an incredible moment together.