Silje Nergaard – St George’s, Bristol

Thursday 14th February, 2019

I should have written this sooner. Partly I forgot, partly I wasn’t sure what to say and partly it’s half term and I’ve been with my boy. I am finding it increasingly difficult to write this blog, something I didn’t think would happen. When I have incredible, amazing experiences at gigs it is easier, but when I have a perfectly nice time I am not sure what to say. I have become self conscious of having an audience and self censoring about what I say. When this was an exercise in documenting things for myself and 3 people read it, it was easy. Now that I know venues and artists read as well as total strangers I get nervous.

I had seen Silje in the listings and went back and forth about going. I like jazz, I am making a point of seeing more female artists, I had nothing else to do on Valentine’s night, yet my instinct was that I should sit this one out. Yet. St George’s is beautiful with wonderful acoustics and have been enormously supportive of me. So I went. Any concerns about it being a romantic evening were unfounded and the warm and welcoming atmosphere of St George’s and its patrons helped a great deal.

Silje has been around 25 years, spending time in London in the 90’s trying to be a pop star (with some success) before settling back in her native Norway where she has enjoyed a very successful jazz career. I’ve come to like jazz (I’ve 6 tickets booked for the Bristol Jazz Festival for starters) but as with most other genres of music the kind of jazz I like is a little less mainstream than Silje’s. This was smooth, dinner party jazz, perfectly palatable and pleasant but not really for me. She has a wonderful voice, which did sound utterly lovely in the gorgeous acoustics of St George’s, but it was a touch too controlled and perfect. I know that sounds silly, but the emotion in a voice is what connects and you don’t have to be a technically perfect singer to reach another’s soul. Silje is clearly an experienced and excellent performer and singer, but that magic something that made me fall in love was missing. It was too polished and rehearsed a performance for me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Silje’s music, the reaction of the rest of the audience showed that, I’m just more at home with less commercial music.

Of the songs I can remember, the ones about her children, stood out for me. There was a naturalness and emotion to them that I could connect with more easily. I also liked the track she sang in Norwegian as well as the Norwegian harp she played towards the end and I would have liked to have heard more of both.

Overall I am glad I ventured out. Silje does have an amazing voice, and there is nothing wrong with having a perfectly pleasant time. I guess it is about what music means to and for you. If, like many, it is for relaxing, passing time, having an evening out, then Silje would have been perfect. For me, where music is life force, essential and an emotional release valve, it wasn’t.





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